Phone Interviews

I have never had a phone interview in my life before. But I just had one for an animal toxicology position that I am looking at after I graduate, and I must say that it was the worst experience of my job hunting life.

I hate phone interviews, they are so impersonal, and on top of me disliking being on the phone, I don’t think they are very useful.

This phone interview was 45 minutes of straight questioning. Horrible, and ridiculous. I was sweating, having a hard time articulating myself, it was bad. It was so impersonal! I have nobody to phyiscally talk to or relate to…

AGGH, I don’t think it went well, hopefully they are desperate enough to hire someone that they will at least grant me an in-person interview. I have never not been offered a job after an interview, I can do person to person, just over the phone sucks?

Anyone else have bad phone interviewing experiences?

Why would a phone interview be worse than an in person interview? If anything, you should be less nervous because the interviewer can’t see you sweating and fiddling with your watch. I’ve blown phone interviews before, but I’ve also blown plenty of in person interviews.

Why would a phone interview be worse than an in person interview?

They’re a lot worse because you can’t stop and think about something without dead air. In person when you’re thinking of a response, it’s obvious you are, but on the phone the dead air tends to be filled with “Are you still there?” or “Yeah, so, uh, let’s see, hmmm”.

I had three phone interviews and two in-person interviews for the position before being offered my current job. Just remember to smile while speaking and relate any question back to your personal or professional experiences. Be generally pleasant, and don’t let yourself get rattled. The other person will sense it.

I too prefer in-person interviews, but sometimes you make do with what you have.

Phone interviews are very common here. It weeds out candidates and we only bring in the ones that seemed worth a look. Think of it as the employer equivalent to you being able to shop for jobs online via multiple websites. It allows an employer to grab people related to your job who might not be in the same location a chance to talk to you and feel you out. Usually in face to face interviews we can’t even get all those folks together, so you end up with a shorter list of folks to talk to.

It’s also a blessing in disguise, you think face to face is easier, it’s not. Combine that with sometimes long travel out of town for an interview and it gets pretty crazy. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can come back to a question when answering. That might help a bit with the dead air.

I hate phone interviews for the same reason as Brian. I understand why companies do them and I don’t expect them to stop, and I usually don’t have a problem powering through them, but due to the awkwardness of non-visual talking (coupled just with the slight anxiety that the awkwardness will come even before it does), there have been lots of times I’ve done phone interviews and after they are over I recap them in my head and think, oh fuck, I should have said X, Y or Z there and this there and that there. I almost never do that on in-person interviews because in-person I’m comfortable enough that it occurs to me to say X, Y or Z while I’m actually in the interview.

That is a silly sweeping generalization to make for something that is obviously very subjective from person to person.

Different employers have different challenges and as a prospective employer it’s good practice to work with them however you can to accomodate their hiring process. If you want the job enough to apply, you should play ball with their hiring procedures.

But, what really pissed me off was that I missed a phone interview for another company. My phone didn’t ring, thank god they emailed me about it, and I got to reschedule for tomorrow. I actually called him and apologized in person, and we had a laugh about cell phones dropping calls and being lame. So, crisis averted. And this job I am looking forward to getting possibly. Software project manager for Epic Systems. (50k right outta college booyah) Right up my alley. Tech job working with people. So, even though I missed the phone interview, I am still getting one tommorrow. Apparently they only pursue about 5% of the applications they get, so… I am in like flynn baby.

I am so pumped for tomorrow, this phone interview sounded way more casual!!

Good luck to me,

I give a lot of phone interviews. I prefer to do the interviews in person, but sometimes that isn’t always practical.

There is a lot of stress. In person you can convey you interest and intent through body gestures. Not knowing an answer to a question in person can be mitgated by body language (especially in reading your interviewers reaction). But if you don’t know the asnwer on the phone you always assume they are looking dissapointed and writing a giagantic NOOB on your resume.

My advice:

  1. Relax, for some people its helpful to assume that you can not get the job and that the interview is just for practice. Whatever mind games you have to do to get yourself into a place where you don’t feel to much pressure to say exactly the right thing.

  2. Come with a few questions of your own. This is a good rule for all interviews but even more important in a phone interview because it allows you to witness their answering technique (are they direct and to the point, do they meander around, do they joke, etc) to get some clues to the mood of the interview that you would otherwise pick up in person.

  3. Don’t try to be funny. Again this is a good rule for all interviews, but especially important because you can’t read their body language enough to tell if they are open to joking or not.

  4. Be yourself. In person you can see a look of alarm or dissaproval from someone. You can also see a nod or positive glance when you say something right. You won’t have any of that in a phone conversation. Since you can’t direct your responces to their reactions you are just going to have to try to be youself and hope thats what they are looking for.

I conduct phone interviews constantly, probably doing 10-12 per week at this point. Generally we do a pre-screening from our recruiter (over the phone), an initial interview from one of my junior guys (phone), my highly technical interview (phone), then if a local candidate bring them into the office to talk about fit and meet face to face. If a foreign candidate I cover fit on the third round. The first three rounds escalate greatly in terms of stress; when hapless candidates make it through the first two rounds to me, my frustration at their stupidity and/or lying on their CVs comes across and they will frequently freak out, cry, stutter, etc.

I’m very curt on the phone interview; I’m not looking for a BFF, I want to get through it quickly and am happy to say “thank you very much for your time” after the first two questions if it’s clear they aren’t up to snuff. Phone interviews are great for that very reason; if you get some poor mindless dude all decked out in a suit traveling to your offices you can’t curb stomp him after 4 minutes, it makes you feel bad. Over the phone that’s much easier.

Attitude, confidence, and even arrogance are major positives for me, if they’re backed by skill. I try to hire assholes for senior positions. It’s a high stress job and I need people who can take a punch.

Wow, that’s a unique take on interviewing stusser.

Do you treat people like that after they are hired too? Is all that just a warmup to weed out the people who might not be able to deal with the working environment?

Have you ever paid any attention to stusser’s personality? He described being able to “take a punch” as a mandatory quality in an employee.

I’ve had a couple of phone interviews. They went all right.

I think that the idea of the interview itself may be offputting, and the stream of questions disconcerting, but the more you can make the exchange like that of a conventional conversation the better, because we are used to ordinary give and take conversations and I’m sure most of us find them more comfortable.

So as a strategy, if you continue to be uncomfortable with phone interviews, interjecting the occasional question or at least engaging the interviewer at a level different from a mere responder an interrogation may be a good idea.

Being a very theatre oriented person, I find phone interviews very hard to do. I am constantly making faces, gestures and things on the phone that I am used to doing. I can connect with people in person, but over the phone…

I’ve only had one phone interview, but I found myself somehow a lot bolder and more argumentative when the person wasn’t physically there, and must have spent half the interview arguing with him over some minor little DOS-related technical matter. I’m a lot more timid in face-to-face encounters.

(It was with MS and I sometimes wonder how my life would be different if I had taken it, but I didn’t because it was just a co-op program job, offered for only half the term I needed, and farther away than other offers.)

I manage employees in 4 different states. I have hired many people w/out ever meeting them in person. The first time I get to see them is at a FTF months after they’ve been with the company.

As has been said, phone interviews are great screen after resumes and also allow people from various sites to fit an interview into their schedule.

As our team meets regularly via phone meetings, how you act on the phone is actually far more important than how you’ll act in person.

The first week is a gimme to get comfortable with the environment, setup email, learn processes, etc. After that, we load them up. It’s production support; it’s not a low stress environment. I have very little patience for stupidity or slowness. I need people that are smart, tough, and fast, who can can think on their feet and adapt. All employees are treated with respect at all times and we rarely need to fire anyone. If it turns out that they aren’t a good fit they tend to quit very, very quickly. My record is two days.

My phone interviews are most definitely not give and take conversations. I ask very pointed questions and am looking for concise answers. For example Nick, since you’re a DBA, if the candidate lists dataguard broker on their CV I ask them the difference between maximum protection and availability recovery modes. If they don’t know that, they haven’t used databroker (ie they lied on their CV) and I quickly move on. If they list RAC I ask them how to startup the cluster services daemons. If they don’t know it, they haven’t installed RAC. No give and take, either they know it or they don’t.

All that said, our standards are by necessity much more lax when hiring in india. We have some seriously stupid gangbangaloreans working for us. Their major contribution tends to be the conversion of oxygen to carbon dioxide.

Phone interviews are the worst.

Oh, no. Let me restate that.

Being directed to take a test before they’ll even talk to you. Then getting a phone interview. Then getting assigned a sample project before they’ll have an in person interview with you. That’s the worst.

I have never tried this, but I have heard that a strategy is to pull up a picture of the person giving the interview and basically talk to the picture during the interview.