Phone Interview Tips Series

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Even if you’ve got all the big factors covered for your phone interview (quiet spot, landline, preparation), there are still some pretty small phone interview mistakes that will get you screened out and marked off their short list.  Sometimes it doesn’t take much….phone interviews are real tipping points in the process, and even seemingly insignificant factors can tilt the scale.  Some of these mistakes will surprise you.

Drinking a glass of water with ice (or anything with ice)

While it’s good to have a glass of water nearby to keep your voice from getting scratchy, it’s a bad idea to put ice in it.  Over the phone, that clinking ice is distracting and could even make your listener think you’re drinking something a lot stronger, with alcohol.  I don’t know why, but that is the image that will show up in many interviewer’s imaginations, and it will hurt you.

small phone interview mistakes cause big problemsKeeping a poker face 

If you don’t smile when you speak during your conversation, it comes across to your interviewer as disinterest in the job or even downright unfriendliness.  Even if it’s not a completely genuine emotion on your part, it will still show up in your voice as confidence, enthusiasm, and likeability.

Chewing gum

Smacking in your interviewer’s ear is a great way to get them to delete your name from the list. It’s distracting, and it’s rude.  (Plus, what if you accidentally inhale it?  That coughing fit won’t really add to your professional image…)  Spit out the gum.


Listen to someone smoking a cigarette sometime….those long pauses with each drag, the hard exhales blowing out the smoke, the occasional coughs…and then you’ll understand why you don’t want that in your conversation.  And for some interviewers, the fact that you smoke might be enough to knock you off the list—and you’ll never know.

Using your speakerphone function

Even if your intentions are good—like, you only want to put them on speakerphone so you can take notes—the result of putting them on speakerphone is bad.  The sound quality of your call goes way, way down.  They will hear any little background noise in your environment, and it will be distracting.  When they realize you have them on speakerphone, their immediate reaction will be a negative one:  “this person is not professional,” “this person is not focusing their full attention on this call,”  “this person doesn’t care about this job opportunity.”

Pay attention to the details in your phone interview.  The smallest actions can make the biggest impact on your call.  It all affects whether or not you get to the face-to-face interview.

Ace your interviews! Watch my free webinar on Perfect Interview Answers!

Discover the best interview answers, critical mistakes to avoid, and an interview hack that will seal the deal. Interview for any job with confidence!


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