I have a guest blog to share… interesting story with a very practical set of recommendations. Enjoy!
– Coach Wolfgang
My phone interview begins in 3 minutes. I’ve done all my prep. My resume is in front of me. Job application, company website, questions I intend to ask… check, check, check! At 8:30 the Vice President of Sales is calling me on my home phone. I chose my home phone since it’s easier to have a conversation on a land line rather than a mobile phone line.
It’s 8:34 am… I check my cordless phone handset – no missed calls, power on.
It’s 8:39 am... something is wrong. I call my home phone from my mobile phone… it goes straight to voicemail! Aagghhh!
It’s 8:40 am… I glance to the right of my desk and see the base unit for my phone UNPLUGGED! Double “aagghhh”!
Turns out my wife scheduled our bi-annual professional carpet cleaning for that afternoon. We moved furniture out of the living room the night before, including the stand for the base unit of our home phone. Thus, the phone got moved to another room where it sits… UNPLUGGED! (I may have mentioned that already.)
Unfortunately, the VP decided not to reschedule the call, even after truthfully explaining what happened. It’s not an easy feeling to live with. Not only did I put in a lot of time researching the company, studying the VP’s background and preparing for the interview but I also thought the job would be great. My regret is not having performed a simple system check. I’m confident that this is NOT a reflection on my qualifications for the job – just a simple mistake. Therefore, I’ve decided to turn this into positive energy and an opportunity to help others avoid this and similar mistakes.
Systems are a way of life these days: your car has to run, the alarm clock has to ring, your laptop has to connect to the projector and the water has to flow to your shower. We take many of these things for granted everyday. When a system goes down it can ruin your whole day. If something goes wrong, it is usually easy to deal with.
However, when something important is on the line and you only have one chance to get it right, check your systems and create a backup plan. Here’s my list of system checks for remote interviews.
System Checks for a Phone Interview
Question: Will you hear your phone ring?
System check: test the ringer volume and the phone has power
Question: Will the caller hear you answer the phone?
System check: Ask a friend to call your phone and confirm she can hear you, once you answer. Make sure your headset is plugged in and not on mute.
Question: Will your phone last the entire call?
System check: look at the battery level for all phones and start charging the low ones.
Question: What is your backup if your phone stops working or the call drops?
System check: keep a charged mobile phone handy and get the phone number for the interviewer.
System Checks for a Skype or Webex Interview
Question: will your computer work?
System check: test microphone level, webcam and volume. what will you do if the electricity is out?
Question: will your voice quality sound good? video quality?
System check: find out the system requirements for the video/audio service and compare them to your computer system and internet speed.
Question: will any distractions intrude on the interview?
System check: reduce outside noises and keep people from entering the room you are in. also, close all other computer applications and turn off phones.
The bottom line is to put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes. Go through their motions. First, he or she will pull up the email you sent with your phone number, type the number into the phone, wait for you to answer and say “hello”. Step through a dry run of the entire interview. You’ll see where you are vulnerable and the systems that you are counting on.
Most importantly, ensure that you have a backup solution for a true technology failure. If your land-line phone or mobile phone go down can you contact the caller via the internet? If your internet connection goes down can you call the interviewer? Have your bases covered because 1) the unexpected WILL happen and 2) failure to have a backup plan can result in losing the opportunity.
If this preparation seems like overkill then just think of me at 8:40 am realizing that a simple mistake just cost me a great new job.