In the phone interview, the hiring manager is scrutinizing you as much as they possibly can, evaluating whether or not they want to spend the time, money, and effort to invite you for an in-person, hour-long conversation. They want to know if you are worth the extra time and trouble. This is a big, big deal.
There’s really only one good spot for a phone interview, and that’s at your home. Public places like restaurants and coffee houses are too noisy and unpredictable. Even if you could find yourself a nice quiet spot in a park, you’d still have to deal with nature. Birds can be really loud. You can’t interview at your current office, because that’s too risky. And never, ever, interview and drive.
Do the interview at home. You have much more control over the environment. That being said, you have to exercise that control. That means, no pets, no kids, and no significant others, either. Make sure that all creatures big and small in your house are occupied elsewhere, and make sure the two-legged varieties (big and small) understand that if they interrupt you, there better be gushing blood involved. An emergency involving an ambulance is the only truly acceptable reason for your call to be interrupted.
Still, things of the non-emergency variety happen…the dog barks, or FedEx shows up at the door. You can get interrupted for a lot of reasons. Hiring managers understand that, but at the same time, they will be looking to see how you deal with the unexpected. What do you do? First, keep your cool. If the distraction is not going to go away, then deal with it, apologize for the interruption, and steer the conversation back to where you were in the interview. Maintain your professionalism and your control. You will be providing that hiring manager with a very clear picture of how you will deal with interruptions or difficult situations on the job, which can be very impressive.
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