Phone Interview Tips

Phone interviews can be tough. With the lack of visual communication, you must be able to rely on auditory feedback and be disciplined enough to keep focus.


There are two main types of phone interviews – expected and unexpected. In order to be prepared for the unexpected phone call, make sure you have access to proper materials near your phone or desk. Keep a file of “employer research” near by along with a fresh copy of your resume. Your resume will allow you to easily answer questions about your past experiences. Company research can help you quickly come up with a few questions for your interviewer. Having access to a notepad and a pen is probably a good bet as well.

For expected interviews, make sure you have a space set aside that is free of distractions. Keep a glass of water nearby in case you need to clear your throat. Remember, phone interviews are just as much of an interview as a traditional meeting.


Know your comfort zone. Some people perform best in a quiet room, while others prefer to pace around. If sitting still is your style, a room free of distractions is best. If you are the type of person that likes to walk-and-talk, consider determining a predefined route. This will help ensure that there are no outside noises or unexpected distractions like sirens. Make sure it is a leisurely walk so you can maintain calm breathing patterns.

Smile. Negativity or a uneasy attitude can easily show itself over a phone call. Before the interview, consider spending a few minutes listening to your favorite song or watching a funny video on YouTube. Make sure you are in a good mood.

Disable call waiting. If for some reason you are not able to disable call waiting, absolutely ignore it if someone calls.

Listen. Without the visual communication of an in-person interview, it can be tough to know when to stop talking. If your nerves are high and your blood is flowing, you can easily make the mistake of saying too much. Make sure to speak slowly and articulately. When you have answered the question, allow for that possibly uncomfortable moment of silence. This will let the interviewer know that you are through, and then they will proceed. Listen and wait for them to finish with their next question, and then proceed. Consider taking notes on the key aspects of each question


Do’s and Don’ts

Do give accurate and detailed contact information in your cover letter so your interviewers can easily connect with you.

  • When in job-hunting mode, don’t have a disproportionately silly or long greeting on your answering machine or voicemail.
  • Do ensure that household members understand the importance of phone messages in your job search.
  • Do practice, if possible. Have a friend call you to do a mock phone interview so you get the feel of being interviewed over the phone. Practice makes perfect. As with all interviews, practicing before hand helps you prepare for common interview questions. Remember to “play in practice as you will in the game.” It will make a huge difference.
  • If you cannot devote enough time to a phone interview, do suggest a specific alternate time to the recruiter. It’s often best to be the one who calls back so you can be mentally prepared.
  • Do consider using a phone interview log.
  • Do consider keeping some notecards or an outline in front of you to remind yourself of key points you want to cover with the interviewer. You don’t want your responses to sound scripted, but you don’t want to fumble for important points either.
  • Do ensure that you can hear and are being clearly heard. If you are taking the call on a cell phone, make sure there is no wind in your vicinity. Wind noise will prevent you from hearing the questions and make it harder for them to hear your answers. No speaker phone.
  • Do consider standing when being interviewed on the phone. Some experts say you’ll sound more professional than if you’re slouching in an easy chair. Stretching out your torso will allow you to have the full strength of your lungs. You will be able to speak more clearly and powerfully.
  • Do enforce a dress code. Believe it or not, properly dressing in at least a business casual attire will make a big difference in your ability to focus on the interview. Wearing the right clothes and taking a serious approach to the call will help you maintain a professional attitude regardless of your surroundings.
  • Do create a strong finish to your phone interview with thoughtful questions. Make sure to ask for your interviewers name. Follow up with a thank you note.
  • Don’t panic if you have special needs. If you are hearing-impaired, for example, phone interviews are still possible.
  • Don’t snuffle, sneeze or cough. If you can’t avoid these behaviors, say “excuse me.”
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