Five things you should never do during a phone interview

Five things you should never do during a phone interview

It’s now common for companies to use phone interviews to whittle down their options before conducting face-to-face interviews.

While phone interviews may seem less intimidating, they present other challenges you should definitely prepare for.

We spoke to a number of different career coaches and experts about how to ensure you stand out over the phone.

It’s becoming an increasingly common phenomenon that you won’t immediately be invited to an interview even if successful in your written application: many companies will first invite applicants to at least one phone interview before deciding who they want to meet in person.

But just because you don’t have to meet your potential employer face-to-face doesn’t mean you’re off the hook; quite the opposite. It can actually be much harder to convince people of your abilities over the phone as opposed to in person.

Make sure you avoid the following mistakes in a telephone interview.


  1. Bad reception or other tech-related troubles

“I’ve had too many interviews that needed to be rescheduled at the last minute because the candidate couldn’t get their technology to work,” career change expert Caroline Ceniza-Levine says in a guest post for Forbes.

There are several technical mishaps that can strike at precisely the wrong moment: you could end up with bad signal, your battery could run out, your internet connection could drop or your computer might force you to reinstall your video software. Interviewers aren’t interested in what’s going wrong or why – you have to nip these problems in the bud by pre-empting them and taking preventative measures beforehand.


  1. Failing to prepare notes

There are perks to being interviewed over the phone and you should make the most of them, according to consulting firm Michael Page: “Phone interviews provide you with a unique opportunity of having your CV, job spec, company research and personal notes in front of you, so have them to hand and make use of them while you can.”

At a face-to-face interview, it can feel clumsy digging through notes while your recruiter is talking. But on the phone you can always check you’ve covered everything you wanted to. And it can serve as a cheat-sheet for when you don’t know what to do or say.


  1. Talking too fast and too much

“Speak slowly at all times, even a tad slower than you speak in real life,” recommends career advice authour Molly Beck in a post for The Muse. The recruiter won’t be able to make use of your body language to fill in any gaps during your interview, so it’ll be much harder to follow you. Beck also recommends you wait briefly before answering. Without body language, there’s no way of knowing whether the person you’re talking to is actually finished. By waiting, you prevent awkward interruptions from both sides.

In “The Essential Phone Interview Handbook”, author Paul Bailo also recommends to speak as little as possible.

“The less you say and the more you listen, the better the phone interview,” he told Business Insider. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to talk for 20 minutes solid to convince someone you’re right for the job.


  1. Making yourself too comfortable

Of course, it’s important you conduct phone interviews in an environment where you feel comfortable.

“Eliminate background noise, for example, from young children and pets. Have a glass of water handy. Print out your résumé and mark key parts that you want to highlight in the conversation,” advises headhunter Jorg Stegemann in Forbes.

Even if you have the conversation from home, avoid lolling around on the couch in your pyjamas. Dress well — maybe even smartly — and sit at a table or walk around the room — the notes are always within reach. “It will help you give professional answers,” says Bailo.

  1. Just hanging up at the end of the call

You’d never just walk out of a face-to-face interview with a quick “thank you” and a wave goodbye — so why would you end a phone interview like that?

Director of operations at, Dana Case, said  in an interview with career portal Monster: “The best way to initiate the transition to the final part of the interview is to ask the interviewer: ‘Is there anything else you’d like to ask?'”

It means you’ll learn more about the application process and won’t be left torturing yourself post-interview about whether you’ll ever hear from the company again.