How to Blow the Phone Screen Pre-Interview Call

by Carl Dierschow

Phone Interview Mistakes

Last year when I was job hunting, I had a pre-interview call that totally caught me off guard. I learned a bunch from the experience, because I blew it. I didn’t get an interview, because I never passed the screening call. Here’s what you DON’T want to do:

  • Have no access to your records. I happened to be at a week-long conference, so I didn’t have any of my information about the position or my application. It took me a while to even figure out which job the person was referring to, so I appeared totally disorganized.

  • Be distracted. Because I was walking from one conference session to another, it was noisy, and my mind wasn’t in any state for a job interview. I should have set a time for the call, rather than attempting to do it on the spot. That also would have saved me a bunch of VERY strange looks from other people hanging out in the lobby.

  • Be unprepared for the questions. This was the first phone screen call I had, so I wasn’t sure what they were looking for. The interviewer asked me a very tough question: “Why would you be satisfied taking a position that offers less than your previous job?” I blew it, fumbling around for a coherent answer. I’ve learned since then that you have to do some serious thinking in advance in order to answer questions like this well.

  • Have no way to follow up. Because I was flustered, I forgot to get the contact details for the person I was talking to, or someone else to contact. All I know is that they never contacted me further about that job, but it would have been much better to follow up with more information in an email, or send a thank you note.

Learn from my mistakes, and be prepared for that pre-interview screening call! It might just be the most important three minutes of the whole interview process.


Carl Dierschow is a certified Small Fish Business Coach and author of the career management guide, Mondays Stink! 23 Secrets to Rediscover Delight and Fulfillment in Your Work. He is a career coach for those going through interesting transitions, and works with small business owners who seek to create amazing businesses.


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