Sunday, March 11, 2012

Phone Interviews: Is NOW a Good Time?

 The short answer for job seekers should always be, “NO.”  Phone interviews are challenging enough without the added ‘surprise’ element. All job seekers should ALWAYS politely turn down surprise telephone job interviews and ask that the interviewer call back at a specified date and time, or, offer to call the interviewer back at a specified date and time.

Although you, as the job seeker,  may be sitting by the phone and anxiously waiting for it to ring, that does not mean that you are able to formulate ‘intelligent’ answers to the questions the interviews will likely ask.  The basic questions for phone interviews are:
  • Why did you apply for this position?  You are likely to have applied for more than one position.  Unless you have an eidetic memory, you won’t even remember applying for position X at Company ABC, much less the detailed requirements of the particular position. 
  • What can you tell me about the company?  In all likelihood the person who wanted to conduct the interview introduced themselves quickly.  Unless you have the wherewithal to ask that the person conducting the interview to repeat their name and name of the company for whom they are making inquiries, you are at a distinct disadvantage and will spend the next few minutes trying to gain your bearings rather than concentrate on the questions being asked.
The reality is that it may not be a good time for you to participate in a phone interview for the following reasons:
  • If you have applied for the job using a customized cover letter and résumé that was tailored for the opportunity, you will need copies of the information that was sent to the potential employer  as well as a copy of the original job posting [if you applied for or found out about the job via the Internet] in order to answer questions effectively.
  • It is unreasonable for anyone to be able to speak about Company ABC unless that is the ONLY job opportunity for which you applied.  Those who are successful in securing a job will not only know about the company, but they should also be able to field questions about the company’s competition.  It is unreasonable for any interviewer to expect that the job seeker, ‘breathe, eat and dream’ about every company and every opportunity for which they have applied.
  • It may not be a good time!  You, like everyone else, have lives outside of your job seeking activities. You may be on your way out to run an errand, or even perhaps another interview.
  • You may not be sitting in front of your computer, have access their research or the Internet to the Internet in order to do the research or pull up the files you have stored in your computer
  • You may have household distractions that need to be mitigated before they can focus on the interview
  • You may not even be home at the time of the call

As a job seeker, you should NEVER allow yourself to be put in the position of weakness.  Surprise telephone interviews should be viewed as a blindsiding tactic used to thin the candidate pool.  No one is going to argue that job seekers sometimes get desperate, but they also need to be cautious with regard to how they respond under pressure.  Now that I think about it, it would not surprise me if this blindsiding tactic is actually a test to see how the candidate responds under pressure.  It’s just a thought!

As a job seeker, you will be far more successful in your search for a suitable position when you can and do say, “No” to surprise telephone interviews.

What do you think?

Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of the author, Mary Salvino. “Career Matters” is a blog authored by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career that is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. This blog is also dedicated to those who stand a little taller each time they picked themselves up after failing and those who gained the wisdom and humility from those experiences to help others do the same. For any questions or comments that are better addressed privately, please feel free to e-mail Mary directly at