The Myth of Phone Interviewing
Yesterday I phone interviewed a candidate for a search I was conducting for a National Accounts Manager position. The phone interview was with my client – the CEO.
I had already interviewed the candidate by myself for the job. The candidate passed with flying colors. He was specific, precise, gave good examples, was articulate, and provided good validation and verification of his accomplishments.
Here’s what happened: My client started the interview with more open-ended questions than I typically ask.
As a recruiter, my questions are laser-focused, drawing out every detail of an accomplishment and achievement like having blood withdrawn.
I don’t care if candidates are not prepared for my interviews – I’ll extract it out of them like they were sitting in the interrogation room at a local police station. Some of my candidates have indicated these interviews feel like a “soft deposition” (not sure if I could have come up with a better oxymoron).
Unfortunately, most hiring executives and managers don’t dig and probe as deep to validate, verify, and vet candidate accomplishments. Instead, they ask broad high level questions and wait for the candidate to prove how good they are at interviewing.
Yes – I know it’s a travesty for hiring managers to base their assessments on how well candidates interview rather than on the substance of what they have done and what they can do. It’s a fact of life.
We’re trying to change it one interview at a time – getting hiring managers to focus more on measuring whether the candidate can do the job vs. whether the candidate can interview well. Not sure this will happen in my lifetime.
How to Blow the Phone Interview
The candidate choked up. He blew it. He stuttered through the interview. He was disjointed. His thoughts were jumbled. He would get sidetracked and lose the focus on his point. Here was a candidate who made hundreds, if not thousands of presentations to clients. Here was someone with a great track record of success. But he still blew the phone interview.
Why? How could this happen?
It happened because he did not prepare adequately for the phone interview. He never got a chance to get to the first stage of a physical interview. He can ill afford to miss an opportunity like this job after having been out of work for more than a year.
I’m convinced that one of the major reasons a lot of candidates are still looking for a job after 12 months is that they are not prepared for phone interviewing.
He didn’t review his accomplishments. He didn’t rehearse his answers. He didn’t organize his thoughts related to the potential company’s needs.
The interviewer didn’t guide him through the interview – question by question probing for success. Instead, the interviewer conducted a typical interview at 40,000 ft. and the candidate wasn’t prepared for a typical interview of standard, inane, common, and canned interviewed questions. These were the same 20 questions, hundreds of other managers had asked him prior to this interview.
Shame on him.
Death by Phone Interviewing
He tried to “wing it”.
I’ve seen this “death by phone interviewing” over and over again.
Many candidates think that their accomplishments listed in their resume should “stand on their own”. This myth of phone interviewing couldn’t be further from the truth. Keep in mind that you’re primarily being interviewed for how well you make it through the phone interview – not necessarily how good you are as a potential candidate.
If you can’t navigate the dangerous waters of a phone interview, forget about ever getting a job offer – since you’ll not even make it to the face-to-face stage.
Raise Your Chance of Winning the Phone Interview
If you’d like to learn more about how to win in a phone interview, download for FREE the most popular chapter, “Winning the Phone Interview”, of our Job Search Workbook, “This Is NOT the Position I Accepted”.