Troubles With The Phone Interview


In the past, we have written?about interviewing and interviewing etiquette.? To practice what I preach, I’ll tell you about my latest experience interviewing for a position.? I recently went through?2 rounds of interviews for a position?at a university in?northern California.? When?I tell you to prepare for the unexpected in interviews,?I really mean it.? I probably didn’t do as good of a job preparing, in terms of anticipating unexpected hurdles, as?I needed to do before?my first interview.? But I did do well enough to?meet with the Vice President and land a potential job.

The Application

I will be relocating to San Francisco, CA this summer and have begun the job search process.? I had found a position that interested me in January.? This particular job was posted online and entailed creating partnerships between a small university and the community.? The position required you to apply online which?I absolutely hated!? Other than your content, there is no way to personalize your application?online.? Some bad things about online apps:

  1. The formatting will be set to a default setting so it doesn’t matter what you do to make your submission professional

  2. Fonts, bold, italics and bullets are all removed once your application is submited

  3. Some sites only allow a 2 hour time limit to complete your application and hit submit or it will not be accepted

  4. You have to have your additional forms (transcripts, recommendation letters, cover letter, etc.) ready to upload

After applying back in January, I got a call from a representative of the university asking me for an interview.? They were giving me 3 days notice to there by Friday.? I had my work schedule set for the week, with back to back meetings that I could not miss.? So I told them I am excited for the opportunity to interview with you, however my job responsibilities prevent?me from being able to take time off to go to SF?for the?interview that Friday.? They offered to do a conference call with an interviewing commitee of 5 people.? I accepted.

Round One

I wanted to be sure I prepared for this phone interview since the more practice I get interviewing the better I will become in articulating myself effectively during crunch time.??I also wanted to make sure I had a private location where I would have no distractions during the phone interview.? I reserved a room in my building for 1pm on Friday so that I could take the call.? I set up the phone, tested the phone, and had someone call me to make sure it was working properly.? I actually really liked the phone interview because it allowed me to have paperwork in front of me that came in handy.?

So it’s 1 pm on Friday and I take the call.? We go through introductions and we get started,?”What can you tell me about our university?”? I had the school’s demographics and figures right in front of me, not to mention all the research I did on the web.? So question 1, I nailed it!? Question 2 came along and it was a little difficult to hear them because the phone was picking up static.? They asked if I had a cell phone near me, I said yes, and they told me to put it in a drawer because it was causing static.? I had never heard of a cell phone do that before but I said OK.? As we continued, it progressively got?worse.? It was so bad?that they stopped the interview and told me they couldn’t hear my response, so I gave them my cell phone number and had them call me.

I always keep my phone charged so that when I leave for work in the mornings, I’ll have it ready for the whole day.? Well, the night before my interview?I happen to forget to?charge my phone and when I answered their call, I noticed the battery sign was flashing red.? WARNING!!? Ten minutes pass and my phone beeps, then dies.? This is strike 2!? I gather all my things and run to my office.? I scrounge through my desk and find their phone number.? I pick up the phone to dial and the other line rings.? They called me for the third time!? By the end of the interview, I could have sworn that was going to be the last I heard of them, but as we finished they said, “we had an opportunity to talk during our short break and we are all in agreement with inviting you to our campus for a second interview.”

The second interview was held the following Monday.? I had the weekend to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco, do a site visit, and prep for the second interview.? The second?interview was amazingly different than the first and will be explained in part two of this post.? But to recap my first interview experience, consider the following:

Things You Should Consider

  1. Always charge your cell phone battery the night before a phone?interview.

  2. Always use a phone that you have used before and you know works.

  3. Be sure to give them your current phone number that you can be reached in case of a disconnect.

  4. Prepare for a phone interview as you would a face-to-face interview.

  5. Do not break your stride.? Regardless of the circumstance, focus on always keeping your cool, confidence and energy up.

I will leave you with some pictures of my visit to the campus the Saturday before my interview.? Going to see where you will be interviewing before the day of your interview is one of the most important things you can do.? Especially if you are in a different city or state.

This is a picture of the San Francisco Peninsula.? Nice view from the Administration building.

This picture is of their University Union.??Nice Mercedes in front huh!

I took the weekend to prepare for my interview, but at the same time, I had a chance to see the sites and catch a ballet show.? I’ll update the pictures of my trip later this week.


11 thoughts on “Troubles With The Phone Interview

  1. I agree with you Jane – I hate applying through the web too. I’m I can upload my resume as a .pdf, I will take the opportunity every time!
    As for traveling to SFO, that’s great (I don’t know where you live know so I don’t know if it’s a plus for you). I get to travel to San Fran a couple of times a year for work and I love it!!
    Make sure you hit up the In-N-Out on Fisherman’s Wharf!

    1. Web apps are a pain in the a**!!! I also have my files in pdf, makes for easy uploads.
      I haven’t been to that specific In-N-Out, but I know I recently had some amazing clam chowder in a bowl!!!

  2. Sounds like quite an interview! I would have been sweating bullets with all those kind of distractions! Good Luck with the rest of your interviews and I hope you get the job!

    1. Yeah, kind of out of control, but what can you do but to roll with it. Thanks for the good wishes. I’ll keep ya posted.

  3. I’m guessing your comedy act with all the phones (and more importantly, how you handled it) amused and impressed them. It probably broke up the monotony of a string of dry and lifeless interviews they were conducting.
    Nice tactic Jane!

    1. Yeah, if only they were all like that. Well, at least the impressing part. I can do without the “comedy” of dropped calls

  4. I am glad it worked out after the dead phone. What a rough call, I am glad it worked out for you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *