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.
If you want to read more on this topic, here are additional resources on how to prepare for a phone interview: