Notes on my Job Search: Phone Interviews

The phone interview – it’s like someone took a big vat, filled it up with everything that sucks about interviews and job searches, added some of the worst aspects of phone conversations, then poured it into a mold titled, “Phone Screening.”

What does a phone interview tell you?

Well, people claim it’s an easy way to vet candidates before bringing them in for a face-to-face interview.

The telephone. It’s the bridge between conversations in person and conversations via text (whether that text is an e-mail, letter, text message, etc.). There’s the benefit of immediate response time and audible cues, but phone conversations are still very lacking. You cannot, for example, see body language or facial expression. You may be able to hear your sister smiling, but the likelihood that you can pick that up when speaking with a stranger isn’t particularly high.

What I’m saying is that a phone interview is like a regular interview with all visual cues removed and decreased emotional awareness for both parties.

Add to that:

  1. the level of nerves many people feel during initial job interviews
  2. fear of long pauses in conversation, especially over the phone – dead air is not fun
  3. too many outside stimuli – many people don’t have private offices or even a good room to go into for a job interview
  4. lack of personal impression – there’s no opportunity for small talk or a memorable handshake
  5. inability to show how prepared you are with printed copies of resumes or references
  6. unexpected questions for which you are both unprepared and unable to read the visual cues of the interviewer
  7. additional anxiety that a phone will die or a call won’t go through or that the procedure isn’t perfectly clear (who will actually dial the phone?)
  8. Inability to ask for a business card – this can make it awkward to get contact info

What else do you think sucks about phone interviews? I know I make a much better impression in person than over the phone. Thoughts?

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4 thoughts on “Notes on my Job Search: Phone Interviews

  1. Duke Mantee says:

    They are awful. Especially when done from a hospital bed. Anyway… Skype interviews! I started doing them in my most recent round of intern interviews, and I like it a lot better for getting a sense of the person, when they are unable to come in and meet me face-to-face. It’s a little awkward at first, like any interview or introduction, but it does a better job than phone interviews in letting you see visual (conscious and unconscious) clues and body language. I feel more confident in offering someone a position when I’ve Skyped with them, than when I’ve only spoken to them on the phone.

  2. Donald Miller says:

    I think you’ve unwittingly hit upon a new job market. Set up a small cell of BS artists who can charm the daylights out of any would-be employer and have them fill in for the applicant. Charge $20 a phone interview and you’re bound to take in a good $100/hour.

  3. Getting jobs out in bush Alaska requires a lot of technology-laced interviews. I agree with all of your complaints about phone interviews. Layer on Skype interviews where you have to rely on choppy buggy webcams and delays in the phone transmitted the voice. Ugh! But it is cheaper than a $1200 plane ticket to a remote village and back…so we go along with it with as best cheer as we can.
    Greetings from north of the Arctic Circle. And good luck with your job hunt.

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