Lazy Lists

Tips For Phone Interviews

In the past, I’ve provided tips for in-person interviews. From small business to high-profile companies, these tips have resulted in several readers’ successful interviews. In other cases, these tips provided employers with the insight to which of the candidates were on top of their game. In one case, these tips were said to have resulted in a long-term stay at the Smiley Flowers Sanitarium, but since conjecture is not the same as proof, I intend to continue dodging such subpoenas.

As technology continues to evolve, so does our navigation of business culture. Gone are the days of pneumatic tubes and teletype machines. Today, video conferencing and telecommuting are common components in the business world, especially in a growing global economy. To compensate for the fast-paced, zoom zoom, bing bang, pow pow, vroom vroom of today’s corporate world, recruiters have found modern short-cuts for the interview process. Phone and video interviews are just two of the ways the business world has kept up with the technological advances.

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At the party celebrating his promotion, Gary joked that his preferred title was Pneumatic Pneumanager. Later, Gary confidently claimed, “It’s a job I’ll have forever. The future is now!”

If you are currently looking for work, you may be asked to participate in a phone or even video interview with an HR rep, recruiter or government employee assigned to verify your unemployment status. Whatever the reason, you may feel ill-prepared for such an informal and impersonal interview style. Below you will find tips that will prove successful in turning your interview into a job offer.

Phone Interview

Do – Listen to what the other person is saying, pause and then respond appropriately.
Don’t – Listen to your favorite anthem rock song, interrupt the other person with, “Shh, shh, shh! Shut up for a second. I love this part,” then begin mouthing your favorite guitar solo.

Do – Mention qualities about your former employers that you admire and respect.
Don’t – Mention qualities about your former Grand Dragon, currently serving a life sentence for domestic terrorism, that you admire and respect.

Do – Have printed a list of references to name off if the interviewer requests them.
Don’t – List off names from your ‘Gonna Get Even With Someday’ list. You know, the one attached to your manifesto.

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“Dont try and deny it, Thompson. Your revenge list and threatening letters to elected officials are copied from mine word for word. One thing I will not tolerate is plagiarism!”

Do – Remember the 3 C’s– confidence, charisma and capability
Don’t – Remember the 3 S’s – swearing, slut-shaming and self-mutilation

Do – Highlight any awards or commendations you received from previous employers.
Don’t – Highlight any restraining orders you received from previous romantic partners.

Do – Mention that the job of Assistant Junior Marketing Coordinator II sounds compelling.
Don’t – Mention that the job title of Assistant Junior Marketing Coordinator II sounds like gibberish.

Video Interview

Do – Have a glass of water nearby to prevent dry mouth.
Don’t – Have a bottle of French’s yellow mustard nearby for spraying directly into your mouth.

Do – Situate yourself in a quiet room that is free from distractions.
Don’t – Situate yourself in the Champagne Room at The Foxy Bed Bug Gentlemen’s Club.

Do – Wear a buttoned shirt or conservative sweater to ensure a professional appearance.
Don’t – Dress your cat in a sweater and pretend she’s interviewing the other person for her podcast.

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Miss Fisher poses after another successful episode of the Me Meow Paw’dcast. That night’s topic, Why We Make That Stink Face, was one of the highest rated.

Do – Look directly at the camera and give the interviewer your full attention.
Don’t – Stare off-camera at the menacing and homicidal drifter that secretly entered your home.

Do – Remember to thank the interviewer for taking the time to speak with you.
Don’t – Ask the interviewer to clarify their sex. Be confident that they are one of the two.

Do – Be sure to speak clearly and coherently.
Don’t – Speak like Mickey Rooney’s Mr. Yunioshi from Breakfast At Tiffany’s. It’s not funny and it makes everyone really uncomfortable.

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Even just typing this caption feels sort of racist.

22 thoughts on “Tips For Phone Interviews”

  1. As an introvert, the thought of a phone interview is more frightening than a face-to-face one. Not sure why we introverts struggle with phone calls so much, but we do. At least now, I’ll have a set of useful tips to guide me though. If only I could quit asking potential employers to clarify their sex…

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  2. This is really helpful, Calahan. I especially like the cat in drag tip. That’s one that could really trip me up. On another note, any idea of who to call to get a pneumatic tube installed in my house? Those things are totally awesome. Thanks for the Saturday morning laughs!

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    1. I actually got to play with a pneumatic tube system when I was a kid. My uncle was in charge of a particular hospital department and let me help send messages via the tubes. It was a lot of fun, actually.

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  3. While phone interviews supply ample opportunity for awkward, counter-productive phone silence, they’ll never be able to see me nervous, and profusely sweating freely in my underwear, so that’s a plus.

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    1. They can’t see that you’re only in your underwear, but, trust me, they can hear it in your voice. I’ve lost a lot of jobs this way. “He had too much of a, I dunno, boxer briefs tone in his voice that I didn’t care for.”

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