Kicked Out of the Interview Process by Phone Screening

Posted: August 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Career Coach, Interview Tips, Phone Interviews, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Kicked Out of the Interview Process by Phone Screening

I was sitting in my office looking out the window working on a candidate’s resume when my phone rang. On the other line was one of my “insiders”. The “insiders” are a group of hiring managers at Fortune 500, small business and growth-focused companies who regularly make hiring decisions.

These insiders allow me to give you, active job seekers, a real-world perspective on what today’s hiring managers are actually looking for in candidates. This particular call came from Alex (that’s not his real name but for the sake of anonymity, let’s go with it). Alex is a senior executive at a Fortune 500 company that has a plethora of openings and seems to always be in hiring mode (yes, even in today’s market). He was fired up!

How The Candidate Landed The Interview

Candidate Joe was referred by one of Alex’s closest friends giving him a significant leg up on the competition. His chances only got better when Alex saw that Joe held a similar position he was hiring for and, better yet, at one of their top competitors. To sum up what Alex said to me, “there was an 85% likelihood he would have gotten hired unless he completely blew the interview.”

Losing a Job You Basically Already Have

Today’s market is so competitive that companies often hire third parties to conduct phone screens, phone interviews and the like.  This is how Alex’s company filters through the hundreds and thousands of resumes, including those which are personally referred.  Candidate Joe was put through the usual phone screening interview and, thinking he had an “in”, he blew off one of the questions. No problem, right? After all, he knew a senior level executive, was referred by one of the guy’s closest friends, and currently held a similar position at a top competitor. In his mind, this was a done deal. The interview was mere formality.

What Happened to The Perfect Candidate?

One of the questions in the phone screening interview asked Joe “Give an example of when you’ve had to retain a customer by providing excellent customer service.” He provided no response to this question. All candidates must answer every question in order to be considered for hire. Due to his lack of response, he’s ineligible for hire for the next 6 months in this position.  I bet Joe was surprised when he received the following email following his phone interview: “Dear Candidate, thank you for your interest in the position. The original screening indicates there was not a match between your skills and our needs. You will be eligible to apply in six months. We encourage you to apply on our website for other positions.”

Advice for all Candidates

Every step in the hiring process has a meaning, whether you understand or appreciate that step or not, it’s there for a reason.  Ignoring a question that may seem “silly” or “stupid” to you can clearly be the end of your path with a company that you have all the skills and expertise to be a valuable hire to, no matter who you know and at what level. It’s imperative to remember that we all put our pants on one leg at a time, and every person in the process has a say in who gets hired.


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