11 Do’s and Don’ts for a Great Phone Interview


For 95% of IT candidates, phone screens are the first step in a longer interview process – an important opportunity to make a good first impression and get your foot in the door.  The hiring manager already sees something special in your resume, so apply these phone interview tips for planning and professionalism, and you’ll be one step closer to a face-to-face. 

DO Your Research
With all the online resources available today, there’s no excuse for not doing your homework.  Researching the company (corporate website, news stories, blogs, social networks) and the hiring manager (LinkedIn) prior to the interview, shows you’ve taken an interest in the job beyond simply sending a resume. Gather some background info beforehand and it will show you care about the opportunity.

DON’T Surround Yourself with Crying Babies & Noisy Pets
We love babies, but make sure you’re in a quiet room free of noise well before you take the call. These distractions reflect poorly upon your planning skills, make you lose focus, and are annoying to the person interviewing you.

DO Charge Your Cell Phone & Disable Distracting Features
A dead or dying cell phone battery is frustrating to both sides, and it suggests you’re not good at planning ahead. Land lines are preferred, but at the very least, take the call on a full cell phone battery.  And make sure you turn off any smart phone features that could interrupt your conversation:  text and email alerts, call waiting, etc.

DO Speak Clearly & Coherently
If you have an accent or are nervous, focus on slowing down your speech so you are easily understood.  If the interviewer is hard to understand, don’t be shy about asking them nicely to repeat a question.

DON’T Let Them Hear You Typing, Clicking or Turning Pages
When an interviewer is testing your knowledge of C++ multithreading, they probably don’t want you frantically asking Google for the answers. Make sure your keyboard typing or paging through a reference book isn’t audible. Of course, it’s always better if you know your stuff in the first place.

DON’T Come Across as a Know-it-All
No one likes a know-it-all, and a hiring manager is even less likely to want to employ one as a direct report.

DON’T Say You’re a “10” at Anything
People who rate their skills in any area a “perfect 10″ tend to believe they don’t have any room for improvement. They’re also more likely to think they’re better than their peers at a given task or skill. Most employers are interested in hiring people who are eager to learn and grow.

DON’T Ask Them if They Like Their Job
A candidate did this recently at the end of an interview that was going well. It turned the manager off so much that they didn’t call him in for a face-to-face.  Asking questions is, generally, a good thing. But questions like this can put hiring managers on the spot and are considered inappropriate. And a little creepy. They’re better off avoided.

DON’T Go Off on Tangents
Stick to the questions asked. This is especially true for those who tend to dig themselves into a hole the more they talk.

DON’T Interview Drunk
Yes, this has happened. No, the person was not hired.

DON’T Be Argumentative
If they tell you your answer to XYZ is wrong and you know you’re right, calmly explain how you came to your answer, but don’t argue.  Be nice, humble, and when in doubt, the employer is always right.