I had a phone interview where I didn’t connect well with the person. There were a few misunderstandings. Is there anything I can now do?

Here is one example. We role played where she called me and needed tech support. She had stressed the fact that there were no trick questions and if I didn’t know a technology we could do a different example. I isolated the problem to being the router. I asked which lights were on and she said there were no lights; I took this to mean there physically were no lights but she meant they were all off. I also told her to make sure it had power and to check the cables were secure. She said there was a white cable connected to the wall but after we finished she said that was just the Ethernet cable and the power cable came unplugged. In such situations should I argue my point or explain why I got confused? I know in support related roles the customer can be very unknowledgeable but it’s unlikely they would say the device is plugged in when it’s not, especially when she said it’s not a trick question.

I’m thinking of sending an email along the lines of “thanks for taking the time to interview me today. Sorry I misunderstood the status of the router, I think I know a lot more about routers than I made clear in the interview today”.

The interviewer suddenly stopped the "role playing" and asked why I didn't follow up with the no lights. I explained when she said it had no lights, I thought it meant there physically were none, not that they were off. Also I did say to check all cables, and to say "one is connected to the wall" does not necessarily imply it was not getting power. Now, if I had some basic training in new that all of this companies routers had lights, this would have been easy.

She also got me to talk about a time when I went above and beyond in providing service. I told her about a time where someone had a problem that kept coming back where a printer got disconnected and I stayed late to find the root cause of the problem and fix it so it wouldn’t come back.* She said the person must have been upset with me that the problem kept coming back. I said she wasn’t but offered to talk about a time I had to deal with an angry person. I gave the example of when I worked as a telemarketer and people got mad that I was calling them to try to get their money. She said “why did they get mad when you called them?” … how could a person not understand why it would be annoying for a telemarketer to call them? This is what I mean by not connecting well. Is there anything I can do at this point?

*the user was trying to print from a guest operating system in VMware and things were funky with the USB pass through with the host OS. Basically VMware reset the USB pass through settings each time the host was rebooted so I wrote a script to fix this.

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    I would guess she was being deliberately vague on her answers and expected you to ask questions to clarify them. That's an integral part of a support role.
    – Steve
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 8:19
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    @JoeStrazzere what do you mean by that? An interview is your chance to argue why you'd be good at the job.
    – user63507
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 11:04
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    @CoolBeans An interview isn't a chance to argue why you'd be good, it's a chance to show that you would be good for the job. There is a very large difference.
    – David K
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 12:36
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    The only assumption you should make is that the user knows NOTHING, and build from there. It sounds like you're treating them like morons, and they may get frustrated, but it starts there. I work on software and get calls from people who have been in this company for 20+ years who have used this software far longer than I've been programming in TOTAL, and they can't tell you why or how something is done. I know more about the program than the person using it daily. So, yes...don't assume unless you assume the worst case is happening. Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 15:35

2 Answers 2


Is there anything I can now do?

No, you shouldn't contact her, just hope for the best.

You made a kindergarten mistake, so I wouldn't hope too much though. A large part of simple support is making sure you understand what is going on. You never bank on a consumer knowing anything.

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    While it's true not to assume anything, I did say make sure it was plugged in and she said it wasn't a trick question. The interviewer made a mistake.
    – user63507
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 6:05
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    Good luck telling her that
    – Kilisi
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 6:16
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    @CoolBeans That's the wrong attitude for someone working in tech support. Customers make mistakes all the time. You need to factor that in. You made the mistake of assuming the customer knows how to check that the device is connected to power. Also, it's quite common that interviewees think the interviewer made a mistake if they don't get an offer. It's your right to think so, but in general you can't appeal the decision.
    – user29390
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 6:27
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    @CoolBeans You've fallen into a basic trap here where you're expecting to be presented with a difficult support case where the actual problem is far simpler (which is the case the majority of the time). The clues were there (a cable going to the wall (all routers will have two), and the mention of the white cable (power cables are usually black).
    – user44108
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 6:50
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    @CoolBeans so the customer would have a router with ethernet power and no phisical lights. Ever heard of the medical slang "Zebra"? You assumed a far more unlikely condition than the usual support scenario, and you got messed up by that.
    – BgrWorker
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 8:47

Is there anything you can do? No, there isn't.

I hire for support roles and in interviews often roleplay customers in troubleshooting scenarios. If you ask me clarifying questions, I will answer exactly what was asked, and that often means withholding critical information because the customer doesn't know it's critical and it's your job to figure it out regardless.

It's OK (not great, but OK) to misunderstand something and go down a rabbit hole for a while. But if you can't figure out your own mistake and get back on track during the interview, sorry, you blew that question -- and in real life too, if you're debugging a customer's production issue today, it's not going to help much if tomorrow you realize you went down the wrong track.


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