A Basic Guide to Phone Interviews

I recently had a phone interview for a job somewhere. I know that sounds incredibly mysterious, but I’m an incredibly mysterious person. Mystery is how I maintain my mystique. All in all, I’m pretty sure the call went well, but how does a person know? There are hundreds of articles on the web about preparing for an in-person interview, but virtually none that address the issue of the phone interview. That’s why I’ve put together a list of questions not to ask during a phone interview, a list that if used as a guide will avoid uncomfortable silences, awkward laughter or sudden hang-uppage.

  1. “What are you wearing?” – If the interviewer is the same sex this might pass for a harmless inquiry. If they aren’t, it will most likely lead to a lengthy and boring discussion about their clothing since they’ll assume you know very little about the intricacies of what the opposite sex wears.
  2. “Can I get paid under the table?” – Nothing good happens when people try and exchange things under tables. In many cultures if you touch your bosses knee with your hand, even if accidentally, you owe them a healthy baby, which can obvious delay your start date significantly.
  3. “Can I take my vacation before I start?” – Although it seems like a logical question, and should show you are a person of initiative that wants to show up fresh and ready to work…actually this is a good idea. You should do this.
  4. “What’s your policy on employees instituting new policies?” – If you’re like me, you probably have lots of ideas, some of which might even be related to best practices and other jargony things. This isn’t really a bad question either. Okay, maybe I should just write questions you should ask.

Here’s my list of questions you should ask during a phone interview:

  1. “Do you like questions?” – This is the perfect interview question. If they say no, stop asking. If they say yes, ask them “when”?
  2. “When do I start?” – It might sound like an a-hole thing to ask during a phone interview, but if they react poorly just complete the sentence with something unrelated to the job like, “When do I start…learning all about your company?Right now! Am I right? “
  3. “What’s your drug policy?” – It’s important to know what any prospective employer thinks about over-the-counter drugs. Nothing is more offensive to a holistic healer than the freewheeling consumption of aspirin, and statistics show that some percentage of Fortune 500 companies are run by people practicing homeopathic medicine.
  4. “How Casual Are Your Casual Fridays?” – Casual is a very broad term. You don’t want to show up wearing pants when no one else is wearing pants, you’ll feel like some kind of prude.
  5. “What do you think, idiot?” – This is a good litmus test for a possible employers and can be asked in response to any question they ask you. There’s nothing worse then ending up working at a place where you can’t balance your compliments about family pictures with insults about anything.

I think that just about covers it. If you don’t ask the first half and ask the second you should be well on your way to an in person interview.


One response to “A Basic Guide to Phone Interviews

  1. You forgot, “Do you press charges?”

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