I know you want to find the perfect technical consulting contract. I also know that you want to make a good impression. So why do you keep making these same, simple interview mistakes?
And, just for the record, when I say simple, I really mean it. I’m not talking about the right or wrong answers to a question your interviewer gives you. I’m talking about the actual preparation and setting for your phone interview. How and where you answer the phone, as well as how you prepare, makes all the difference.
Just to make sure that you don’t make these same blunders in the future, I’ve prepared a list of the 8 most dangerous mistakes a technical consultant can make during a phone interview. Please, don’t make one of them. I’m begging you.
1) Not knowing who your potential employers are
Tip #1 falls under the “preparation” part of the interview. We’re always shocked by the number of people who don’t know anything about the company that’s interviewing them.
- If you’re interviewing with a technical consultant, know about their firm. Make sure you know where they are working out of, and try to figure out to what kind of clientele they cater.
- If you are interviewing with a company, make sure you’ve done your research. Sometimes, companies will ask you questions about their organization, just so they know how prepared you are.
Make a good impression. Do your research. Don’t ask questions that can be answered by the organization’s website.
2) Not talking about past jobs
You make be on the quest for a new job, but this doesn’t mean that you can ignore your past positions. By refusing to talk about past positions, and only about the one at hand, red flags go up. And they go up fast.
- If you’re avoiding the topic because you’ve had bad past work experiences, don’t. Don’t trash talk anyone, but be honest about why another position wasn’t the best fit for you.
- If you’ve had excellent past experiences, talk about them! Let your interviewer know your favorite aspects of past positions and how they align with the job at hand.
Don’t be blinded by the job in front of you. Unfortunately, it happens more often than you might think.
3) Refusing to consider different solutions to a problem
In some cases, an interviewer may ask you to solve a problem. This doesn’t seem strange. After all, they’re just evaluating your problem solving skills, right? Right. But what happens when they ask you to reconsider it from a different point of view?
If you’re most people, you get defensive and try to re-explain why your answer is right. If you’re one of the select few, you honestly try to see it from another point of view.
And the winner is?
The select few. If they’re asking you to reconsider your solution, they’re seeing how well you are able to look at things from another person’s vantage point. This tells your interviewer a lot about how well you’ll fit in a team setting. This question also gives them another chance to understand how you process and problem solve.
Don’t get defensive when this happens. They’re not necessarily saying you’re wrong. They’re just asking you to look at things from a different point of view.
4) Being unwilling to perform a technical interview
You’re a technical consultant right? So why would you get upset when someone asks you to perform a technical interview?
Some people believe that they are too talented for a technical interview. Others pass up this interview because they may have stretched the truth about their skills on the application. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter why you’re passing it up, refusing a technical interview means a company won’t want to hire you. They’re only asking you to prove your skills and if you won’t or can’t, they’re not going to waste their time.
Be honest about your skills and realize that your interviewer merely wants to verify that you can do what you say you can do. It’s routine so accept and prepare for the interview.
5) Noisy Backgrounds
We understand that the phone interview puts you in an interesting spot. You can’t conduct it in your current office space. You certainly can’t do it at the gym. I guess that leaves some quiet little nook in your home, huh?
It does but there are many issues with conducting an interview at home. The biggest one? Noisy distractions. Dogs barking. Children crying. Dishwashers running. There’s a lot to compete with. Your interviewer knows this, but this doesn’t mean that they want to share your attention. They want you to focus, to be professional.
Sit in your car, your garage, your basement. Anywhere where you can escape household commotions. By being in a quiet environment you can project the image of a competent business person. Which is good, seeing as how this is who you are, right?
6) Bad phone connections
Cell phones. They’re incredible and, as a result, they’ve replaced most home phones. The problem? They’re not as reliable as home phones. With home phones, you never had to worry about reception. With cell phones? You’re there one minute and gone the next.
Know your cell phone and where it has problems with reception. There is nothing an interviewer hates more than to have someone breaking up constantly or someone who keeps dropping the call. This situation doesn’t make a good impression on the interviewer, which doesn’t bode well for you.
Make sure that your phone is reliable and that the area where you are making the call has good service. No middle of the Northern Maine woods for you.
7) Being afraid to tell your recruiter that this is a bad time
In a bar? Driving? While you shouldn’t pick up your phone if you’re in a noisy or distracting setting, it happens. Your options? You can leave the bar, pull over your car, and talk to your recruiter. Or? You can tell them that this is a bad time. If you didn’t have a scheduled time to chat with your technical recruiter, this is a perfectly acceptable solution. Trying to talk in a bad situation will leave you in the same mess as being in a noisy home environment (Tip 5).
8) Not doing something after you say you’ll do it
Your technical recruiter or interviewer’s pet peeve? You not doing something after you say you’ll do it.
During your interview, did they ask for references? Did you say that you’d have it to them right after the interview? If so, don’t wait 5 days to send them along. E-mail them over as soon as you hang up the phone.
Did you say that you’d be there at 10 for an interview? Don’t blow it off. You’re not only giving yourself, but your recruiting company, a bad reputation. Don’t flake.
You see? There are a lot of different interview mistakes you can make outside of not giving the right answer to a question. Be prepared, be in a quiet setting, and stick to your commitments. In doing so, you’ll make a great impression and be well on your way to the perfect technical consulting contract.
What do you think? Are there other obvious mistakes consultants make during the interview process? Let us know in the comments section below, or join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin!
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Thank to Lee J Haywood, skyfaller, and quinn.anya for the use of their respective photographs.