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As a recruiter I have the opportunity to hear interview feedback from both the candidate and the interviewer. There are many times when a candidate may think an interview went well, but after hearing from the interviewer they feel the exact opposite. You can be a near perfect skill fit for a given job, but ruin your chances of being selected if you fail to impress during a phone interview. Here are some key mistakes you could be making, and how to improve the next time around:

1. Answering a question that you don’t fully understand.

SOLUTION: If you don’t understand what the interviewer is asking you, ALWAYS ask for clarification! Don’t simply try to answer if you aren’t clear about what they are looking for.

2. Not asking any questions.
SOLUTION: You should always have at least a couple of prepared questions for your interviewer. This shows that you took the time to review the position information, and you are serious about making sure you can meet their expectations.
Consider asking about project timelines or goals, additional job duties that may not be in the description, current team/culture or an overview of what your day-to-day expectations will be if you move forward and accept the position.
3. Talking too much!
SOLUTION: Keep your answers specific and straight to the point. Be clear and concise and then ask if the interviewer whether they would like you to elaborate on any points. Remember that you typically have an allotted time frame for an interview, and too much talking might result in the interview being cut short.
4. Overselling Yourself.
SOLUTION: People are rarely a 100% fit for a given job, and managers know this. Be careful not to oversell yourself, or make it seem as though you’re an expert in an area you may have only touched on a couple of times. This will skew your interviewer’s expectations for you, and you could end up falling short on something you promised you could deliver.
5. Underselling Yourself.
SOLUTION: If you don’t have experience in a specific area, you need to admit that and be honest but you should not finish your answer on this negative note. Try to end on a positive note and emphasize your willingness to attend a training or mention how quickly you feel you can pick up on new skills if applicable.
6. Surrounding yourself with potential noise or distractions.
SOLUTION: Make sure you’re in a quiet area where you can focus solely on the interview. If you’re in the same building or area as other people, make sure they know that you need a few moments of silence without any interruptions. Be sure to turn all electronic notification noises completely off such as a phone or computer. Background noise can severely interrupt your conversation, and this is disrespectful to your interviewer.
7. Failure to prepare for the interview.
SOLUTION: You should always do your best to know the “5 W’s” for an interview:

  • Who are you interviewing with and what is their role in the company?
  • What job and company are you interviewing for?
  • When do they need someone to start?
  • Where is this company located? Is travel required?
  • Why is this position open in the first place?

Take a look at the job details again, browse the company website and educate yourself. You should try to learn about any products, goals, challenges, major acquisitions or company core values if possible. Review the background of the person you’ll be speaking with and find out what their role is at the company. This will demonstrate your interest level and prove that you are passionate about working for them.

You may not be guilty of all of these, but there’s always room for improvement. Try to focus on your most challenging areas and it may help you pass your phone screen or land your dream job!

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