my expert phone interview tips

I’ve had three or four job interviews over the phone in the past week, and when I started thinking about it, I realized that I’ve probably had hundreds of them in my lifetime. I usually interview pretty well over the phone, and it usually gets me to the next step, which is the in-person interview.

So, since I’m starting to think of myself as somewhat of an expert on job interviews, here are a few of my tips. You know, just in case you happen to be in the job market yourself.

1. If you have small children at home, get rid of them. Find a sitter or whatever, but nothing is going to make you sound unprofessional faster than your 2 1/2 year-old shrieking, “Mommy! I need more juice, pweeeeez!!!” in the background. Personally, I take Catie to a drop-in daycare facility that’s only a mile or two from our house. It costs $8 an hour, and I consider it money well spent.

I did one interview on a day that Dave happened to be working from home, so I let him watch Catie and I locked myself in our guest room for my interview. Of course, Catie had a huge screaming tantrum while I was on the phone because she wanted “Moooommyyyy!!!”, and I’m pretty sure that the interviewer didn’t hear her because Dave did a good job of keeping her at the other end of the house, but I could hear her, and it was more than a little distracting.

2. Tend to all personal needs before the interview. That means go ahead and use the bathroom, so when your 10-minute interview runs for over an hour, you aren’t doing the pee-pee dance around your living room by the end of it. Not that I have any experience with that one myself. *ahem*

3. Have a glass of water nearby, in case you get dry-mouth. Note that this does not apply to soda, as that will likely just make you burp during the interview. And most interviewers – I’m guessing – deduct points for belching. Water, though, probably won’t make you burp and it’s better for you anyway.

4. Don’t try to multitask. During one of my interviews, I thought that I would take advantage of the fact that Catie was at daycare and tidy up the living room during my interview. It’s not like putting toys in the toy box requires a whole lot brain power, right? Um, wrong. It didn’t take long to realize that I wasn’t really hearing anything that the interviewer was saying, so I stopped, sat down and concentrated on making my best possible phone presentation.

5. Don’t curse during the interview. This might seem really obvious, but you’d be surprised. Years ago, I had an interview right after a major dental thing, and I was on painkillers, which is my excuse for this huge blunder. But I said the word “crap” in the middle of the interview – I honestly cannot remember the context or why I said it, but I know I did. The interviewer kind of paused for a second, then wrapped up our conversation and I never heard from them again. So, yeah. Learn from my mistakes, y’all.

There you have it. Clearly I missed my calling as a career counselor, no?