Great Resumes Fast » Interviews » The Biggest Mistake You Can Make in a Phone Interview

I have to admit, with more than 12 years of hands-on experience interviewing candidates for various positions, I find that the biggest mistakes aren’t made during the face-to-face interview; the ones that have really shocked me have been when I’ve interviewed a candidate over the phone.  I find this especially serious for those who are looking to WORK FROM HOME or TELECOMMUTE.  So if that’s you, listen up; I’m about to save you from making a mistake that will most definitely cost you the job.

I would assume, if you’re interviewing for a position, it’s because you want the job; I wouldn’t assume that you’re just wasting your time and mine by having a phone interview if you weren’t truly interested in the position or didn’t want to learn more about it.  Yet I find that some candidates just don’t take the phone interview very seriously.  Let me be very clear here—the phone interview is the hiring manager’s first impression of you (aside from your resume, of course).  You don’t want your first impression to be, “I don’t care enough about this position to use proper telephone etiquette.”  MAKE IT A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION.

If you are interviewing for a work-from-home position or a telecommuting position, then this is not only your first impression but may be the ONLY impression the hiring manager will have of you; and it’s even more critical to ensure that you’re conveying your interest in the opportunity—but also that you take this position seriously.

The number-one way to turn off the hiring manager and ensure that you don’t get the job is to conduct your telephone interview while driving.  Others may disagree with me, but to me, this is the biggest mistake you can make—especially if you want a work-from-home position.  This tells me that you don’t take the opportunity seriously enough to set aside dedicated time to talk without distraction.  It also tells me your consideration for my clients will probably be about the same—or worse.  If you don’t take the interview seriously, then the hiring manager will make the assumption that you won’t take the position seriously either; and when it’s a work-from-home or a telecommuting position, that can be very damaging.

If you’re driving while interviewing with me, it tells me that you’re distracted; you’re not taking notes, you’re not giving your complete attention to answering or asking questions, and you’re not evaluating the position.  I can also hear the background noise, and it can be very distracting.

It’s critically important during a phone interview to communicate that you value the interviewer’s time and that you take the position seriously and will do your best.  Putting your best foot forward during a phone interview shows the hiring manager you’ll put your best foot forward with their clients, customers, and needs.

Global resume authority Jessica Hernandez of is a former HR Manager who partners with professional- and executive-level candidates to create authentic, branded resumes and cover letters.  An international resume columnist and resume expert for JobTalkAmerica radio, her work opens doors to lucrative positions at Fortune 500 companies.


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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!

1 Comment

  1. Amy B. on May 26, 2011 at 3:08 pm


    Enjoyed the article and couldn’t agree with you more! As an HR professional/Recruiter I’ve conducted several phone interviews with candidates only to be turned off within the first 5 minutes due to distracting background noise and/or their unprofessionalism. Believe it or not, I’ve actually had candidates complete phone screens from their office or employer break areas. Thanks for taking the time to convey an important tip to potential candidates.

    Also, please share any insight you have in locating legitimate telecommuting or work from home positions.

    Thanks in advance,
    Amy B.

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