Our Corporate Recruiter and I do a lot of phone interviewing. Phone interviews are a great tool; they give both the interviewer and the candidate the opportunity to gather a little more information about each other in order to determine whether or not a face-to-face interview should be pursued. With so many resources available today that give job seekers great interviewing tips, it is surprising that we encounter the same mistakes over and over. Here is our list of the top five phone interview mistakes that will move your resume to the “NO” pile:
- Not asking questions – No questions? Not even one? This is our biggest pet peeve when we interview someone. It’s a given that phone interviews are short but you should always have at least one or two questions in a phone interview. It shows the recruiter that you’re interested and have thought about the position and the company. Phone interviews are typically scheduled in advance which gives you time to prepare. Not having any questions gives the impression that you were too lazy to Google, “Questions to ask in a phone interview.” Oh, and don’t ask about compensation (see number 5).
- You didn’t do any research on the company – This week, no kidding, we had a phone interview in which the candidate replied, “Nothing” when we asked what she knew about our company. Similar to not asking questions, this just shows a lack of interest. Most company websites clearly indicate the industry and the services it provides. Nobody expects you to give a 10 minute presentation on their company but some general knowledge implies it is important for you to know about the company where you could potentially work.
- Being too casual – For us, we have typically encountered this when someone was referred by a current employee. Just because your buddy works here, doesn’t mean that you’re a shoo-in. If anything, you should be on your best behavior so as not to embarrass the person who stuck their neck out to refer you. Do not make the mistake of thinking the recruiter is your friend by association and that the same standards that apply to everyone else do not apply to you.
- Answering a question, “I don’t know.” – Part of the interviewing process is selling yourself. It’s better to ask for a minute to think about an answer than to simply say you don’t know. You should know. You are the expert on you and your experiences. If there is a question that really doesn’t apply to your experience, try to come up with a similar situation you can talk about. Another suggestion is to give an example of what you might do if you encountered the situation described in the question. Just saying you don’t know indicates a lack of effort.
- Asking about salary and benefits – A phone interview is too soon to be asking about compensation. A recruiter may ask you about your salary requirements and if they do, it’s certainly fine to answer. A more appropriate time to discuss compensation is after an offer has been made during the negotiation phase. Asking about compensation too soon makes it seem as though the work itself or the company are not as important as what you will be getting out of the relationship.