Human Resources Interviewing Job Seekers

This Is How You Screw Up a Phone Interview

phoneIn a world where a phone app can get you a face-to-face date, and perhaps even sex, on the way home from the gym, it is difficult for many professionals to take job interviews over the phone seriously.

“Sure,” we say. “I’ll do the phone interview. But don’t think I’m going out of my way to impress you considering you can’t even take the time to meet me in person.”

The truth is job seekers reciprocate phone interviews with an equally proportional level of commitment. In-person interviews require time off of work, and a strategy for how to get to the interview and back without coworkers and your boss knowing what you are up to. Phone interviews are insulting because we regard them as the “ax murderer” test, where someone only needs a basic phone call to figure out if you’re a complete psychopath or moron. It’s the HR version of swiping left.

So, naturally, many job seekers don’t take phone interviews seriously. On many levels, you can’t blame them. Phone interviews mean ducking out from work and into a noisy café, or escaping to the parking lot broiling in the summer heat, or frantically searching for an empty conference room to talk via phone with someone who may or may not be wearing their shoes. For those doing a phone interview from home it is even worse, as you step over kids toys or clumsily mute the TV to speak with someone who may or may not have showered that day.

There is a lot of advice out there on how to nail a phone interview, and some experts suggest dressing up in your interview suit to put yourself in the right headspace for such a serious matter. If you need to do this, you may as well bring along the ax you use to murder people, too. (Seriously, that’s just really weird.) The truth is phone interviews are simply an easy and efficient way for HR to vet job candidates who can’t speak convincingly about themselves, their goals, and vision. It is also a way to identify those who can. Considering that phone interviewees have already passed the skills and experience test in the cover letter and resume assessment phase, this is where one’s personality comes into play. So it suddenly becomes personal.

Very personal. This is where most job seekers screw up. Job seeking can be a humiliating and demeaning process filled with rejection, judgment, and the horrors of being ghosted. Of course job seekers are insecure. Of course they feel a little disappointed and insulted by not being called in for a face-to-face meeting. Of course they get a little defensive and treat phone interviews as being a less serious version of a real interview.

And, of course, this is a big mistake.

Job seekers must prepare for phone interviews with the same diligence and seriousness they would for an in-person interview. They should research the company, prepare questions, and most of all be in a competitive and motivated headspace that will land them that very important face-to-face interview. You know, that interview you dressed up for. In a suit. Like a normal person.

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