Preparing for an upcoming phone interview is just as important as preparing for an in-person interview. Of course it is important to have thoughtful answers to questions you may be asked, speak clearly, and be personable (see more tips in our article How to Conduct Powerful Phone Interviews).  However, it is equally important to know what you shouldn’t do during an interview.

After all, you have spent your adult life building your resume and hours making sure that it is written perfectly – why jeopardize your chances because of making simple, avoidable mistakes during your phone interview?

We asked our hiring managers to help us compile a “never do” list and the top 5 have been listed here:

“The candidate is clearly in an unacceptable area during the designated interview time.” This is a pet peeve of mine.  When I have scheduled an interview, I expect that candidate to be sitting in a controlled environment where they will not be distracted so they can be fully focused on our discussion.  Never take an interview when you are driving down the highway with all of your windows down. Not being focused or in a controlled environment shows you are inconsiderate, unprofessional, and are not taking the job opportunity seriously.  Our hiring managers will not conduct the interview at all if they feel the candidate is not 100% focused on the interview.

“I can barely hear the candidate! The line is cutting in and out.” Consider using a landline for phone interviews as this will eliminate the possibility of bad reception and ensure that the conversation will be clear and static free. If you don’t have access to a landline, at least make sure that you have full signal strength on your cell phone.

“The candidate is not being direct or is rambling.” While answering questions with a concise and direct answer is always important during an interview, it is especially critical during a phone interview. It is much easier to get distracted on the phone than it is during a face-to-face interview. You don’t want your interviewer to get bored and start playing Minesweeper because you’ve spent the last forty minutes explaining how flipping burgers when you were 16 helped you achieve the position you’re in now.

“The candidate didn’t bother to review our website before our discussion.”  In today’s competitive environment please make sure you have researched the company (see our article on how to do this) and can clearly articulate why working for this company will enable you to progress in your career.

“The candidate lacked confidence.” If you’re nervous, you are naturally going to speak at a lower volume and stumble over your words a bit. These can be costly mistakes during a phone interview because the interviewer cannot use your body language to interpret what it is you’re trying to communicate.

Be in control of your own environment; it is important to take responsibility for making sure your area is suitable for a business conversation. Additionally, being confident and having prepared answers will ensure that you are able to focus all of your attention on being effective during the interview.

Written by Katie Fidler

Investing in a Lifetime of Success,

Angela Roberts


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