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.
- “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.
- “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.
- “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.
- “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:
- “Do you like questions?” – This is the perfect interview question. If they say no, stop asking. If they say yes, ask them “when”?
- “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? “
- “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.
- “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.
- “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.