General, Work

The Phone Interview Blues

*Employer in Adele voice* Hello. It’s me. I was wondering if after all these emails you sent to me, can I call you, before you come in?

Adele holding a phone

(Did you try to sing that in tune with the song? I did about 10 times)

On a much more serious note, I had a phone interview recently and this is how it went:

Them: Hello, is this Sargam?

Me: Yes, so nice to meet you!

Yeah, I said so nice to meet you over the phone -facepalm- If that wasn’t enough, a little later, this amazing exchange went down.

Them: *silence*

Me: PARDON?

Them: We didn’t say anything.

AWKWARD TURTLE. Oh and if you’re already cringing, wait until you hear what they actually asked me.

Them: Give us a list of your weaknesses, we really just want a list, don’t elaborate and we’ll ask you if we need you to explain anything.

Um. Ok. So after my countless emails expressing my interest in the organization and the hours I spent preparing for this interview, they nailed me with just that one question. They basically asked me to list all my vulnerabilities but to not justify myself. I forgot what I said in the moment because I was so frazzled (and almost starstruck to be given this opportunity with the manager) but I might as well have said “I work too hard, I care too much and I am a perfectionist!”

From The Office: David Wallace - what do you think your greatest strengths as a manager are? Michael: Why don't I tell you what my greatest weaknesses are? I work too hard, I care too much and I get too invested in my job. David Wallace's unimpressed face.

Needless to say, I didn’t get a second interview and I was almost too embarrassed to write a thank you email for my terribly horrific and awkward conversation with them.

I know this is a super sad thing to blog about but I promise can turn this post around! Pay attention because I’m about to drop some wisdom.

LESSONS LEARNED.

  1. Any interview experience is beneficial, regardless of the result. I learned that I panic under pressure and need to practice a lot more than I previously thought I did, so I will never go into an interview without practicing with someone multiple times.
  2. Dressing up for even a phone interview and being in an environment which somewhat stimulates a private room, like a library study room, actually really helps get you in the right frame of mind!
  3. Forcing yourself to smile through the nerves will make a world of a difference in your conversation. People can hear your smiles through the phone!
  4. Make sure your phone and headphones work well, maybe call someone 20 minutes before just to test things out. I realized my voice must be cutting because my headphones weren’t in properly like 10 seconds after we started talking.
  5. DO NOT GIVE UP. You WILL eventually get a job but only if you keep on applying and keep on hustlin’.
A picture of my laptop with index cards around it for notes and prompts

This is an example of how I laid out my prompts for speaking points while also having my cover letter and resume open on my laptop.

I’ll say that in the past few months, I’ve had perhaps 6 interviews for full-time positions and I haven’t succeeded in any one of them. I do feel dejected at times but I have come to learn that we are living in a very competitive world in which we are led to believe that if we are not superhumans, and are not acing everything we do, then we have somehow fallen behind. But I truly think we learn more through failure!

And that is why, yes, I will keep on applying to this company and every other one ON THE FACE OF THIS PLANET. HUZZAH.

If anyone needs any guidance, don’t know where to start or need to refine some specific skills? Check out the Career Centre! They have a physical space for drop-in resume checks, mock interviews and group workshops to help you with your career.