In the past week alone, there have been media requests, client questions and hiring manager horror stories pass through my office all related to phone interviewing. The worst stories can sometimes be the ones that give us the most insight which led me to the idea of writing this blog post about phone interview horror stories.
Horror Story #1: Not-So-Smart Phone
With a name that starts with “Ad…” I get pocket-dialed all the time and that’s precisely what this candidate, or her, not-so-smart phone did in this case. Just hours after being interviewed via phone for a professional position at a financial services Fortune 500 company, Juliana* was having a conversation with a friend about her plans to possibly spend the summer in San Diego or Los Angeles. That sounds like great fun, unless you’re a hiring manager that’s interested in keeping turnover low and the position you were considering Juliana for is based in Chicago. How did he know about the conversation with her friend? Her phone dialed his number back automatically from her pocket and, thankfully he didn’t answer, but his voicemail recorded the entire conversation. He also knows she’s got a new dragonfly tattoo.
Phone Interview Tip: Lock your phone during your job search to avoid pocket dialing.
Horror Story #2: Costly Distractions
Thanks to Emma Simmons for posting this phone interview horror story on Linked In. “The best examples…that I have seen so far? General wind problems including constant burping with no apology….to loud yawning during a telephone interview on numerous occasions.” It sounds like these candidates needed a refresher course from Emily Post. Burping and yawning? Gross.
Phone Interview Tip: Get a good night’s sleep and avoid soda before the interview.
Horror Story #3: Breaking It Down
After 6 successful interviews, this candidate was one step from a new job as a Manufacturing Plant Manager. Many times the last step in the process is merely getting a sign off from another executive which is why the interview takes place over the phone. In this case, even the CEO had already approved the candidate and was excited to bring him on board, until this happened. Ring, ring. Hello. Begin crazy, unexpected interview. Rather than talking “shop”, the candidate began to talk about his recent separation from his wife. Despite the manager’s attempt to shift the conversation, several times, he continued to describe the details of their relationship until he had a full emotional breakdown. As he continued to cry, loudly, he went into the details of how he and his wife were making love the day of their divorce when her dog jumped up onto their bed with a pair of boxers in his mouth – that weren’t his! Let’s just say, he didn’t get the job and the manager had to report back why the supposedly superstar candidate his CEO and 6 other managers thought highly of was, less than stellar.
Phone Interview Tip: Stick to business-related topics.
These horror stories merely highlight how things can go completely awry during a simple interview that otherwise would be the first step toward a great new job. If you’ve got a phone interview coming up, check out these Top 10 Phone Interview Tips to make sure you don’t end up as the subject of a horror story.