The Worst Phone Screen Answers Ever

October 19, 2011

I think it’s fair to say I’ve conducted about a billion phone screens this year. For the most part, they go well, even if the candidate isn’t a fit for the role. What I’d like to share with you are the dumbest and most infuriating answers I’ve heard over the past 12 months since I joined OpenView Venture Partners. Some of these answers are blatantly silly, while others are a bit more subtle— meaning the candidate thinks he’s been smooth and cunning in avoiding answering the question sufficiently, while my BS alarm is going off the hook.

Please enjoy:


Question: So tell me what you know about .

Answer: Well, I’ve heard so many different things and understand it’s a great place to be. It really sounds like they’re enjoying a lot of success! As someone who works very closely with them, perhaps you could share your perspective with me.

Translation: I have no clue. I came completely unprepared because, yeah, I’m that freakin’ lazy. I think I’ve fooled you into giving me the answer. There’s only been one other time I’ve cringed at such a poor, BS response to a question.


Question: Where would you like to be in your sales career, say … 5 years from now?

Answer: Inside sales was a great experience, but I no longer want to be conducting all my business over the phone. I’m ready to get in the field, meet customers and truly succeed in an external sales role.

Translation: Yikes. I meant to say “outside sales” and now it sounds like I don’t know the basic next step in my career.


Question: If you were managing an online marketing budget of $X, would you allocate most of your funds towards SEO or PPC? Why?

Answer: I don’t offer my counsel for free …. nice try though!

I can’t even attempt to figure out what this person is thinking or what he meant to say. While he is winking on the other end of the line thinking he just Jedi mind-effed me, I’m trying to end this call ASAP to move on to other candidates.

Whether you’re the one asking or answering the questions, we know not every phone screen can go perfectly. At the end of the day, anticipate the questions that could be asked, read up on the position and company and if you don’t know the answer – just say so! Being human and being real can go a long way, whereas feeding these anyone these types of lines will immediately trash your application.

Director of Recruiting

Victor Mahillon is the Director of Recruiting at <a href="">Kamcord</a>. Previously he was a Talent manager at OpenView.