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how can I make a good impression in phone interviews? — Ask a Manager

August 22, 2020

how can I make a good impression in phone interviews?

A reader writes:

I’m currently in the middle of a frustrating and fruitless job search after having lost my job when my company shut down its local office. I have more than a decade of professional experience focused on media and marketing, but now that I’m on a job search again, I’m encountering something frustrating: companies are relying much more on phone interviews than they used to, even when the job is local and I’m in the same city as them. Obviously this is very often the case now with the pandemic, but I was finding it to be the case even before the lockdowns happened.

I understand doing an initial call with a person on the talent team just for screening purposes, but I’ve encountered multiple hiring processes where I then have a call with the hiring manager after clearing the screening stage. And I’ve had really good phone calls with hiring managers and it felt like we were on the same page and everything seemed primed to move to the next stage, but nothing has come of them.

I find this process puts the interviewee at a disadvantage because it’s harder to build a rapport with someone over the phone rather than being able to sit across from them in person and make eye contact. It’s much harder to really generate any small talk – the calls tend to move straight into business much faster than they would if we were in person. And there’s no opportunity to even impress them on a sartorial level (like a nicely tailored suit that shows you care). It used to be you would get called in for an interview and often meet with multiple people right off the bat. So, what is the point of these phone interviews and how do you make a good impression when you’re just a voice on the other end of the line?

You can read my answer to this letter at New York Magazine today. Head over there to read it.

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