Continuing list of common mistakes from real phone interview

Not verbalizing your answer:

It is a huge deal in technical phone interviews as the verbal communication is your only tool. I always recommended that you explain your thought process to the interviewer. More than the right answer, the interviewee is looking forward to monitoring your logical thinking ability. Many interviewees sit quietly if they feel that they are not getting near the answer or they just mention the answer without explaining the process by which they reached that conclusion. To really win some extra points, explain clearly, how you proceeded with the problem.

If English is not your first language know how to pronounce not only abbreviations but also all the special symbols and characters i.e. @ - ‘at’, C# -“C sharp”, “# - pound sign”, “{}” – parenthesis, “()” round brackets, “-“– dash, etc.

This would be very helpful in answering language specific questions like:

“How do you declare a two-dimensional array that you don’t know the dimensions of?” Answer: int[,] arrayName;


"How do you initiate a string without escaping each backslash?" Answer: Put an ‘at’ sign in front of the double-quoted string

Your main goal on the technical phone screen is to show that you have required knowledge and experience and that you are worth being allowed into the technical interview in person.

Getting intimidated:

Getting fazed by the interviewer is another issue with the interviewees. You do not have to be scared! The interviewer may sound intimidating because of the hot seat you are occupying but you should always believe that you can do your best. The interviewer is only another person trying to understand if you are good enough to be his colleague. If you think positively, understand the interview pattern and come prepared with your subjects, you will not be afraid of the interview or the interviewer.

Not taking cues from the interviewer:

How you behave in the interview will depend a lot on the mood created by the interviewer. If he seems chatty and humorous, you can try to be informal too. At no circumstances should you lower your guard enough to pass some off color remarks or jokes. No matter how friendly an interviewer acts, he is responsible for hiring you and any mistakes on your part may always rub him the wrong way. If the members of the interview sound solemn, you should be serious too. In a nutshell, take cues from the interviewers themselves about your approach to the interview.

Of course, it gets much more difficult to understand the attitude of the recruiter or the interview pattern he is following without seeing him in person. This is one of the biggest issues in technical phone interview. Since, you cannot see him you cannot understand his body language or take cues from his facial expressions. This makes it all the more necessary for you to be on your guard always.

Being not confident:

To be able to answer the interviewer’s question confidently, you need to be confident. You have to start the interview with the belief that this job is for you and if you do not get it there is a better one waiting for you somewhere. A healthy and positive mind set can go a long way in making you look confident and professional. Another point that you must remember before taking on any question is that you completely understand the query itself.

In case you feel you have missed a line or have not grasped the intent of the question, you should not hesitate in asking the interviewer to repeat it. The interviewer will be happier to oblige you with a repeat of the question instead of hearing you give an answer that is completely off the mark.

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