Phone Interview
Tips That Work!


If you are at the point of a phone interview, it means the employer liked your resume and has decided to consider you for the job.

Oftentimes, this interview is the next step in the process. This type of interview has become more common lately.

I find that some people don't take phone interviews as seriously as they do face-to-face interviews.

Do not make this mistake!

They are just as important in the job search process as face-to-face interviews, and sometimes more important if you need to pass the phone interview to get through to the next step in the process: the face-to-face interview.

Phone interviews are usually used to narrow the candidate pool down to those who will receive a face-to-face interview.

The interviewer will typically ask general questions. However, a full list of interview questions is becoming more common during phone interviews.

You may not know in advance, so always prepare to answer a full list of questions, as if this interview is your only chance to impress the employer and convince them to hire you.

Remember that this is an interview, not a casual conversation.

Every contact with the employer is part of the interview process. So always treat the phone interview just as you would a face-to-face interview.

The goal of the phone interview is to impress the interviewer in a way that will encourage them to schedule you for a face-to-face interview.

The tips on this page will assist you with impressing the employer in a way that will make you stand out from the competition.

Prepare for a phone interview just as diligently as you would a face-to-face interview. See the interview preparation section of this site for strategies and job interview tips you can use to prepare yourself.

Prepare to tell the employer in 30 seconds how your skills and experience are a perfect match for the job. Type or write out what you will say, and practice it until you remember it.


Phone Interview Tips & Techniques


Eliminate all background noise, including children, pets, TV, radio, people talking, etc.

Wait by the phone for at least 10 minutes in advance. During this time, you can skim over your resume, cover letter, and prepared answers.

Dress as though you are going to a face-to-face interview. You will sound and feel more professional in a suit than in your pajamas.

Sit up straight or stand up. If you are too relaxed, the interviewer will hear it in your voice.

Have the following items in front of you…

  • Glass of water in case your throat gets dry.
  • Resume and cover letter, to refer to quickly and easily.
  • Job description, to help you stay focused on how your skills match the job qualifications.
  • Pen and notepad to take notes, when the interviewer provides important information that you need to remember.

Always smile and be enthusiastic. They cannot see you, but they can hear it in your voice. Smiling creates an upbeat tone that makes you sound enthusiastic.

Always say "thank you" afterwards.


Prepare and Practice


Prepare for the interview in advance.

Practice speaking about your previous jobs, employment dates, responsibilities, and accomplishments.

Perform a Mock interview, over the phone.

Practice answers aloud, but try not to sound like you are reading.

Preparation is crucial. If you are not prepared, you will not pass. Plain and simple.

You may not have advance notice about a phone interview, so make sure you prepare early. You never know when you may get that call, so prepare and practice your job interview questions and answers, starting from the time you apply for the first job. This way you are always ready.


Every time an employer calls you, it is part of the interview process.


Treat every call from an employer as an interview.

The caller may not label it as an interview, but it is. Every step of the candidate selection process is as important as the interview, including…

  • your application
  • a phone call
  • testing
  • a face-to-face meeting
  • any type of contact

Employers will make their selection based on any of these aspects, so professionalism essential at all times.

Phone Etiquette

If you know you are looking for a job, always answer the phone professionally. Leave a professional outgoing voicemail greeting.

If your phone plays music while the caller is waiting for you to answer, apply a pleasant song. Avoid any music that someone could perceive as negative or offensive.

What if an employer calls you while you are at the grocery store, at work, driving, etc.?

You don't want to risk distractions or background noise. If someone calls at an inconvenient time and the interview was not prescheduled, ask the person to call you back at a specific, agreed upon time, and provide the reason.


Always…


Smile! The interviewer can hear it in your voice.

Write down the all interviewers' full names, title and address so you will know where to send your thank you letter.

Send a thank you letter the same day.

Ask about the next steps in the process and when you should expect to hear from someone.

Research the company before the interview.


Never…


Ramble or talk too much. Answer the question, give an example, then be quiet. Let the interviewer make the next move.

Crack jokes. This is not the time for it. Something that you find funny may not be funny at all to the interviewer. You don't want to offend them in any way.

Chew gum. This could interfere with your speaking.

Use slang or cliché statements.

Say "um" or "uh" throughout the interview. Practicing your potential answers aloud in the days leading to the interview will help with this.

Interrupt while the interviewer is speaking.

Put an interviewer on hold to answer another call. Either turn off call waiting, or simply don't answer the other call.


Use the following links for more job interview tips and help...

Job Interview Tips
Interview Preparation
Panel Interviews

Return from Phone Interview to Job Interview Tips

Return from Phone Interview to Simple Resume Writing Instructions Home



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