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  • 5 Phone Interview Mistakes You Must Avoid

    [08.01.13]
    - Jason Bay
  •  [This post was reprinted from Game Industry Career Guide, a resource for graduating students just starting their careers in the game industry.]

    The phone interview is your first and best chance to make a strong personal impression. Think of it as a "movie trailer" for your career, rather than the feature film: You want to mention the coolest things you've done, but only at a very high level. And you want to build a ton of interest and excitement in the short time you have.

    Unfortunately, because they're so short - usually only 20 to 30 minutes - there's no time to recover if you stumble. Avoid these top 5 mistakes that will cause hiring managers to give you two thumbs down during your phone interview.

    Mistake #1: Poor, uhh, Communication Skills. And Stuff.

    One of the key things a hiring manager looks for is good communication skills. Can you explain yourself clearly? Can you make your points effectively? Can you speak concisely?

    Good verbal communication is super important in team-based, highly-collaborative game studios. If you can't communicate well in person, it's hard to work efficiently with a team. During your phone interview, you can demonstrate good communication skills by keeping these things in mind:

    • Speak clearly. Make sure you're speaking directly into the phone. Speak confidently. It will help if you sit up straight in your chair, and take a nice big lung-full of air before answering each question. Some people find that it helps to do the interview standing up instead of sitting down.
    • Pace yourself. Interviews are stressful, and stress causes you to talk too quickly. Fight the urge by remembering to sloooow doooown. Try recording your phone interview and listening to it afterward, to see whether you're talking too fast.
    • Don't "um", "like". A lot of people are uncomfortable with silence, so we've developed a habit of saying things like "um" while we're thinking about what to say next. Don't! It's okay to be silent for a couple of seconds while you're thinking. Silence is better than mumbling. For some people, this is a hard habit to break. The best strategy is to eliminate "um" and "like" from your vocabulary completely, in all of your conversations. Then you won't be tempted when you're in an interview.

    Mistake #2: Drowning Them in Detail

    You've done a lot of things in your schooling or your career that you're proud of, and you want to share every exciting detail with your interviewer, right? Wrong. You only have 20-30 minutes, so if you go into too much detail then you'll run out of time. Not a good first impression.

    Remember to think of the phone screen as the "movie trailer" for your career, rather than the feature film. As tempting as it may be, do not go into detail unless the interviewer specifically asks you to do so. Save the exciting details for the feature film: the on-site interview.

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