Phone interview is typically just the first stage of a hiring process. The phone call is rarely longer than 20 minutes, and you won’t typically face any behavioral or scenario-based questions.

What most people don’t know, however, is that in average more than 50% of all job applicants are screened out at this stage. A chance to fail is quite high to be honest. Let’s have a look at five signs that indicate you didn’t do particularly well in your phone interview, and should better start looking for another job opportunity.

 

1. They ended a call without telling you what’s next

Phone interview is a test of your motivation, goals, and communication skills. Interviewers do not try to arrive to any sophisticated conclusions in the phone interview.

All the want to know is how well you can communicate and listen in particular, how motivated you really are to get the job (whether you applied with 10 other companies and barely know anything about their offer from the top of your head, or oppositely, you waited for this particular call), and how their offer matches your career goals and plans.

This can be easily considered directly on the call. They do not need any extra time to make a decision. For this reason, they will typically tell you what’s next at the end of the phone interview. In most cases they will schedule your face to face interview while still having you on the line.

If they just hung up, and perhaps just politely told you they’d be in touch (not saying when), it is not a good sign, and it may indicate that you failed your phone interview.

 

2. You remained silent when they asked you their questions

Silence is the master, and perhaps also the language of God. But it won’t do you much good in a phone interview, or in any other meeting with the employer.

One short period of silence can be tolerated, especially if they asked you some tricky question. But if you remained silent when they inquired why you left your last job, or what you are looking for in a new position, or what motivates you the most in work, it is likely a showstopper in this interview.

If it happened to you, try to make the best out of the situation. Write down the questions you failed to answer, and think about them for a moment. Questions in phone interviews often repeat, and there is a good chance you’ll get the same question again. Get ready for it, and improve your chances of succeeding.

3. The mood/vibe of the call deteriorated over time

Not every recruiter is an enthusiastic person, or someone who interviews applicants with the smile on their face. Some hiring manager play poker faces, in all instances. It may be their policy, or they simply hate their job.

You cannot see it, but you can definitely tell whether the person on the other end of the line is smiling or not, and what they general mood is. In many cases they will start on the high note.

You can almost feel the excitement in the air. Maybe they have a really high expectations on this interview, because they like your resume. Or they simply did not receive many (or any) other job applications, and hope for the best with you.

If their mood gets progressively worse while they are talking to you, it is a clear sign that they are not happy about your answers. Your words failed to meet the high expectations they had on this phone call. If they lost their smile during the interview, and it did not return to their face, you have likely failed your phone interview.

 

4. They said they would call you back but didn’t call

If they do not arrange a schedule for your face to face interview directly on the call, they will typically say that they will call you back. And they may really mean it, at the moment when they are ending the call with you.

But you likely aren’t the last person they are interviewing on the phone. It can easily happen that the next person they talk to meet all their expectations, and they get extremely excited about the proposition of interviewing them face to face, and getting them to the company.

All promises they made to other candidates are quickly forgotten. They said they would call you, but you did not get any call. What’s more, you are calling them but they are not answering your calls. This is a clear indication that they decided to ghost you, trying to avoid an unpleasant conversation. Apparently you failed your phone interview. Or at least you didn’t do well enough to be invited for the face to face meeting…

 

5. Your gut feeling tells you it didn’t go well

Many things happen during a phone call, and it is impossible to quantify all of them. A short break an interviewers made at some point, a strange question they asked you, some remark they made in the middle of the call, the number of questions they asked you, and so on, and so forth.

If we managed to put all these pieces together, we would get a good idea of how went or badly your phone interview went. But it’s not possible to describe it with words, at least not exactly. Some things can’t be described–we just feel them.

What is your intuition telling you? Do you feel that you gave them good answers? Did their reactions, both verbal and non-verbal, indicate that they were satisfied with your words? What was the overall atmosphere of the call?

Sometimes we prefer to not rely on our intuition, because it tells us things we do not want to hear. But if you feel deep inside that the interview did not go particularly well, and that you likely failed it, more often than not you will be right…

 

Conclusion, next step

Job search is a game of numbers, and every interview is a learning experience. You may fail the first time, just like most other applicants do. Nothing wrong with that in my book. But you should try to learn from your experience.

What questions did you struggle with? What things did you find difficult to handle? Did your nerves have an impact on your words in an interview? Think about it for a moment, and try to find areas for improvement. That’s the only way to move forward.

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Matthew Chulaw
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