Very Short Phone Interview – Ouch!

Dear Work Coach,

I just had the shortest telephone interview ever. I was very happy how it was going thru the first 3 questions, then the interviewer said “I just started the interview process, and I will be going thru other candidates. If you are going thru to the next step I will contact you by next week.” That’s when I expressed my interest for the position, and how well it fit my profile. The end of it.

From your experience, after only three questions should I expect a call, or should I assume that’s it which is what I am feeling even though the questions and answers were flowing pretty nicely?

Also, how soon should I follow up with a thank you e-mail?

Thank you for your advice. And by the way, Great Blog, I must say.



Hi Javier!

Thanks for the questions and the kind words. I’ve conducted many phone interviews and sometimes I end it pretty quickly because I know it won’t work, but sometimes I stop short because I already know that I want to bring the person in for another interview. Usually I give them a clue if it’s the latter case, but not everyone would do that.

So my short answer to your question about a short interview is: I’m not sure. I wish I were. I like that you felt it was going well and, at the end, you still expressed your interest. That gives me some hope. Sounds like you did everything you could. I wouldn’t count it out yet.

Maybe you’ll get a nice surprise and be asked to come interview after all. If not, it might simply be that you did give a good interview, but the person knew you weren’t the right match for them. It happens.

Also, if any part of you (or any of my readers) is wondering about your phone interview skills, you can always get a recorder and practice doing phone interviews with a friend or even by yourself. This helps you listen to yourself and also brush up a bit. But again, that may not be relevant in your case.

As for the thank you note, if you have the interviewer’s e-mail, send it right away. You might say something about how much you enjoyed speaking with the person and how more than ever you are very interested in the job. (Use your own words, of course.) Short and sweet is best…especially considering that seems to be their style. 😉

I am still hoping you hear some good news next week (or the week after if they fall behind schedule). While a longer interview would certainly have felt more positive, these things are a mystery, even after you’ve done as many as I have (on both sides of the table). All we can do right now is guess and hope.

Good luck, Javier. Please let us know what happens!

Ronnie Ann

Related post: Please Help Me Ace My Phone Interview!


About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.


  1. Hi again, Ronnie Ann~
    I posted about my problems with interviews on another thread, but here is one that stunned me, and I have never had happen before.
    I sent off an application and resume to a large behavioral health organization via computer. I received a call from their HR department less than 12 hours after I sent it. The HR person left a message that said she had received the application, and had “just one question” for me. I promptly called her back, and the one question was “What is your salary requirement for the position?”
    This caught me off guard, as I had not even interviewed yet! Well, based on my reading and advice from others in the field, I told her that I preferred to discuss salary “after an offer is made”. She was not too pleased to hear this, and pushed for “anything-a range- just anything”.
    I finally gave her a range that I knew was in line with current estimates in my field and in that part of the country. She thanked me profusely, and said a hiring manager would be getting back to me in “a few days” to set up an interview. However, it has been three work days now, and no call. I don’t expect to hear from them again, as I am assuming that this was their primary screening tool to weed out those who they feel they cannot afford.
    Is this becoming more common these days? Should I have stuck to my guns and turned down her request? This seems awfully mercenary, but it might be good business practice, given the employment climate and economy. Any ideas? Has this happened to anyone else?

  2. Great comment Matthew! You give me the chance to tell people to be very careful about following the advice of “experts”. I do not claim to be one by the way, but still use your judgment even when listening to me! 😉

    Every situation is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. I think you were right to give them a salary range – and to have done research for local salaries before doing so.

    When negotiating top CEO jobs or other such positions, it’s probably smart to stay away from salary talk at all at this preliminary stage (although there are even exceptions there), but for the rest of us, a phone interviewer (screener) often tries to make sure you’re at least in the ball park of what they’re offering. When I did those calls, if I knew the person had been earning a lot more than we could pay, I’d make sure to get their range or I wouldn’t move them to the next level. Just not worth wasting everyone’s time.

    So I think you did the right thing. And if by any chance you want to express even more flexibility than you showed, this is a fine time for a follow-up e-mail saying the position itself is the most important thing to you. Not suggesting you show desperation (even if you feel it at times) or weakness, just saying you’re open. You can decide later if it’s worth it to you. And if they really like you, you can sometimes move them up from where they thought it would settle. I’ve had that happen in my own career. No sense closing doors unless it is absolutely unacceptable to you.

    Best of luck. Matthew. PLEASE keep us posted!

    ~ Ronnie Ann

  3. Lane Zane says:

    Just had a strange experience. I was sent an email from a company and person requested a phone interview for today at 9AM. Person even sent me a confirmation email for date and time. Now, today nothing. I did not receive a phone call or email from this potential employer saying if he wanted to cancel. I researched the company, had my questions prepared. But no phone call. I am wondering if anyone else has had this experience. I know a lot of people are looking but it seems common courtesy and manners are now a thing of the past.

  4. Hi Lane!

    So sorry this happened to you. Unfortunately you’re not alone. Not sure you’ve seen this post, but maybe it will help to know you have excellent company:

    5 Ways Interviewers Make Job Seekers REALLY Angry

    Sorry but I’m no longer able to answer all questions. Short ones have a better chance, but I still might not get to your question. Feel free to browse for answers in Career Topics & Archives or by using the Work Coach Cafe search. Good luck!

    Don’t be afraid to pursue them. Stuff happens…but no reason to let them keep you from your chance.

    Best of luck!

    ~ Ronnie Ann

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