Phone Interviews: Land or Cell

The question was posed to me, "Should a student REALLY try to use a land line instead of a cell phone for an interview?"

My first instinct is yes. If you, like me, want to eliminate as many challenges to the job search process as possible, I recommend using a land line with a plugged-in-the-wall, attached-to-a-chord phone. (Yes, these still exist.) It eliminates the chance for a dropped call and increases clarity.

However, as I ponder this recommendation I fully recognize that most college students do not have immediate access to a land line and if they do have one, it is likely a cordless phone...and the clarity issue may be hampered there as well. And I recognize that if one can access a location with strong reception, the clarity on cell phones is pretty good these days. However...should a student wish to use a land line, the Auburn University Career Center can make a room and phone available to students. (Even if you want to use your own phone but just have loud roommates or a dog, you can typically use one of our interview rooms as well.) Please call 334.844.4744 to schedule an appointment.

Regardless of whether or not you think a land line connection is necessary to the job search, I DO recommend the following phone etiquette for college students as they prepare for the job search:
  1. Make your message professional (no waiting music or inappropriate message to your BFFs). "Hello, this is Name. Sorry I missed your call. Please leave a message, and I will get back to you as soon as possible."
  2. If you will not have access to your phone for some time (Spring Break), change your message: "I am out of the country and without cell service. Please leave a message, and I will be happy to return your call after xzy date." You don't want employers thinking you don't think they are important enough for a returned call...or email.
  3. During the job search, don't pick up calls from unknown numbers when you are in places where talking would be difficult (restaurant, Tiger Transit, in route somewhere where you can't write notes, class!, etc.) can call back! If you DO pick up the phone and realize it's an employer and you are in a bad location, quickly apologize and ask if you can call them back at a designated time when you are in a more appropriate situation. Don't tell them, "Ugh...sorry...I'm in class. Can I like call you back later or something?" The answer will likely be, "Don't bother."
  4. Find a location where reception is 100% available at an optimal level.
  5. During a phone interview, turn off other alerts so you aren't interrupted by the ever present update "bing" of Facebook, Twitter, other calls, text messages, instant messages, etc.
  6. During a phone interview, eliminate distractions (TV, radio, animal, etc.) and let roommates know that you are going to be interviewing so they can respect your need for a quiet environment.
  7. Don't use your speaker phone.
  8. Do smile during your interview.
  9. Don't Facebook or Tweet about your interview experience...really. 
  10. Do immediately start writing your thank you note (email or snail mail) after the phone interview.
For more interview tips, check out this tip sheet.

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