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I've conducted hundreds of phone interviews, more than i'd like to count. here's some advice i'd like to pass along, some of it (most of it) is pretty common sense, but i still get these mistakes. please feel free to add to the list, i'm sure i've missed some.

General calls:
-usually I call the intern/job applicant, but if you're calling me, CALL ON TIME. if the call is 11am, 11:00-11:03 is fine. anything beyond that is pushing it. 11:15? don't even bother unless you have a really good excuse
-I can't stress this enough, get your time zones right, you already know i'm in et, if we agree on 12:30, know that I mean my timezone, not yours (i always try to write et after the scheduled time, but once in awhile I still get kids in pt asleep when i call with the attitude that I f'd up the call time)
-be somewhere quiet, VERY quiet. if you're driving / at a loud cafe / have friends yelling in background = dinged
-just like any other interview, don't be awkward, TREAT IT LIKE A FRIENDLY FORMAL CONVERSATION. since this is all voice I can't judge your body language, so instead everything will be judged by your conversation skills, tone of voice, confidence, knowledge etc.
-if the interviewer doesnt answer the phone, please know how to leave a formal/proper voicemail (name / your # / best time to get back to you / etc)
-common problem with phone interviews is both people speaking at the same time (especiallywith conference calls), if this happens, pause, and allow the interviewer to proceed

Specific to Skype calls:
-if you're calling from skype and i'm on my cell (ie with international calls), PLEASE have a clean connection. I understand if the call drops once, more than that it becomes an annoyance.
-if we're both talking on skype assume it's NOT going to be on video unless I say so beforehand, so don't load your webcam when I call you. everyone is different so if you're not sure feel free to ask your interviewer beforehand if the call will be on video
-don't have an unprofessional avatar / username (i've seen some weird ones...)

Comments (25)

  • In reply to andrew1g
    David Aames's picture

    andrew1g wrote:
    Great post, is there any particular way to greet and end the call? Ways that'll get an applicant dinged?

    greeting is pretty standard, introduce yourself, adjust your speed/tone to the interviewer's (ie you can tell they have a lot of shit going on at the time). small talk sometimes can be a good ice breaker if it's clever / not awkward / not a waste of time. ie look up the news in the person's city and make a comment about it.

    ending the call.... let the interviewer lead, again if they seem to be in a rush make sure to match their pace and let them go, thank them for taking the time, dont be awkward

    what else... take notes during the call. if for whatever reason there's specific details that need to be followed up on in email afterwards, send that email promptly, make it look organized/neat, and make sure to include another "thank you"

    also, i've enjoyed talking to applicants and remembered them above others who've had the confidence to lead the intro so I dont have to think, esp. if i'm having a shitty day, ie ask me if how my bracket went, what i think of cyprus, the recent blizzard, whatever, just dont be a cliche and dont sound fake, let it roll naturally

    hope this helps

    What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

  • Richard Parker's picture

    Great post. Echo the question on how to greet an interviewer. I've heard that answering the phone with your name (*pick up phone* "Hello, this is _________") is generally advised vs just answering with "hello." Your take?

    I know it's a probably a pretty trivial thing but still. I understand it's probably more professional (and how most people answer the phone in the workplace) but to me it seems a little unnecessary for students.

  • In reply to Banker88
    David Aames's picture

    Banker88 wrote:
    Unfortunate that this isn't common sense to people.

    yeah, being good on the phone for a professional call is an underrated skill, i'd advise kids to practice with some ppl (friends of family members, mentors, former boss etc etc) before jumping on the phone for an interview they really care about

    What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

  • In reply to Richard Parker
    David Aames's picture

    Richard Parker wrote:
    Great post. Echo the question on how to greet an interviewer. I've heard that answering the phone with your name (*pick up phone* "Hello, this is _________") is generally advised vs just answering with "hello." Your take?

    I know it's a probably a pretty trivial thing but still. I understand it's probably more professional (and how most people answer the phone in the workplace) but to me it seems a little unnecessary for students.

    yes great point, when interviewer calls, don't answer with "hello..?"

    "hi/hello this is ___ speaking" = simple/easy/professional

    What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

  • limlimlim's picture

    Would just like to share a tip I have: I had calls in like wee hours of the morning simply because of the timezone, i would suggest at least putting on an office wear shirt to kinda wake you up and real proper.
    A nicely pressed shirt also helps you wake up =)

  • BabydickCapital's picture

    Try to avoid bath salts, salvia and other synthetic drugs while preparing for a phone interview. I've found the person on the other end can typically tell if you are a wierd kind of high. It might provide a solid topic for conversation, but probably not worth the risk. At Babydick we route phone interviewers to the local 867-5309 number because it plays the corresponding ring back tone (Jennie I got your number!). Hope this helps and feel free to reach out. - Martha, HR director, Babydick Capital