Bad Signs During A Phone Interview (and How You Can Save It!)

Have you ever talked to someone on the phone and just felt that the conversation wasn’t going well? I feel that way with about 99% of my phone calls with a certain cable TV provider. But I’m talking more about job interviews. You are excited that your resume finally got a hit and get that glorious email back that you are going to be having a phone interview with a recruiter. You are excited for a couple days and then start preparing. You get yourself all prepped up and look at the clock and it’s time for that interview. Let’s face it though, we’ve all had a couple duds when it comes to phone interviews. If you haven’t had any and aced all of your interviews then in the words of Stephanie Tanner from Full House, “Well pin a rose on your nose.” (Didn’t think you’d get a Full House reference in a blog post about phone interviews in 2021 huh….well, welcome to The Working Parent Blog). Anyway back to business. Here’s some signs that your phone interview may not be going in the direction you want it and some ways you can TRY and patch up that iceburg on The Titanic:

black woman talking on smartphone while surfing internet on laptop


Problem: It’s been 5 minutes and you still haven’t gotten a call from the recruiter.

Try to do this: Shoot the person an email confirming that the time still works for them and be flexible if for some reason it doesn’t and they need to reschedule. I know, you planned your whole day around it and it’s extremely frustrating, but you have to try and roll with it. Maybe they went over on their last call and are just running late. The best thing you can do is be flexible and of course DO NOT COME ACROSS AS FRUSTRATED WITH THEM. If they notice you have an angry tone you might as well just hang up and start applying for more jobs.


Problem: The recruiter seems in a hurry and seems to be rushing through the interview.

Try to do this: A lot of recruiters are so overworked and busy that they are already on to the next thing even while they’re talking to you. Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do to slow them down but, you should try and be concise and to the point with your answers. Don’t ramble on about what made you take a year off of college in 1988 or how the guy at your last job at smelly tuna sandwiches every day. You are trying to sell your skills and background to the recruiter so pretend you are on an elevator and you are getting off on the 11th floor and they’re getting off at the 15th floor. Hit them with good stuff and leave a lasting memory for that day so they move you to the next round.


Problem: The recruiter seems very uninterested in interviewing you.

Try to do this: Sometimes you can just feel it.  They maybe sounds distracted or you hear their computer going off in the background. It’s a position no one wants to be in but instead of just laying down and letting the interview die, try asking some questions. Remember, there is a person on the other end of the phone. Well if you’re reading this and its 2050 it may be a robot at the other end of the phone in which case, see my blog post about dealing with robot recruiters.  But seriously, ask them to tell you something about the role that isn’t in the job description. Ask them what they like about the company.  Something to see If they have a pulse.  It could breath some life back into your call.

Again, I know, it’s really frustrating when you’re talking to someone on the other end of the phone who doesn’t seem too interested in you for some reason.  Maybe they’re having a bad day, you never know.  Try some of these strategies and hey, maybe you’ll turn The Titanic into The Titanic 2….I think that reference makes sense.  Anyway, good luck and keep your head up.

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