Phone Interview Tips

Phone Interview Tips

Phone Interview Tips

Have you been sending out multiple resumes and now have received a possible hit on your resume? Does the recruiter want to set up a call with you? That’s great news! We are going to see a series of phone interview tips and how to nail your upcoming phone screening. Here are the top phone interview tips you need to ace your next interview.


Never leave phone call interviews to chance. You have got to practice for it, maybe even record yourself on the computer during a mock interview session. The idea here is to identify areas that need improvement, so you can nail this interview. Prepare for this phone interview as you would for a live, face-to-face interview, because, in fact, it is a real interview and must be taken seriously. Let’s jump into our other phone interview tips.

Do Your Homework

As with any interview, you must research the company, its mission and vision, and the job description. When researching this information, try to match it to your own professional experience. For example, say the job description has a line that talks about specific skills wanted like: diligent, accountable, and entrepreneur mindset. What you can do here is think about how your own experience relates to these. Think about times at your job when you had to be diligent, accountable and how the entrepreneurial mindset has added value to your own job. As you go through the job description, try to make matches like this.

Know Your Own Resume

It is a given that the interviewer will ask you about your resume, so you darn well better know what you wrote and what’s more, why you wrote it. One thing I would do is go over your resume and try to think of questions the interviewer might ask you about each line and section. This is important because YOU WILL be asked something about your resume. If you are interviewing for a more advanced position, in other words, you already have some experience and the job level you are interviewing for is higher, expect to get asked harder questions about your experience. In this case, I would suggest looking up the STAR method and getting familiar with how to answer questions following its structure. This means Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Basically, you will structure your answer following this acronym. Next, you can expect the interviewer to dive deeper with a series of follow up questions. Just think about it like a series of Why questions after each of your answers.

Get Ready For The Call

To get ready for the call, confirm the date, time and with whom you will be speaking. Also, make sure you know if they will be calling you or you will be calling them. In most cases, they will call you. Regardless, this is not a time to drop the ball. It doesn’t hurt to double check with an email to confirm this info. The worst thing you can do is miss the interview because of a slip up like this. This is your time to shine and create a great first impression.

Watch Where You Will Take The Call

The environment you pick for your call is key. Make sure you go to a quiet room where you will have no distractions. If you are using a cell-phone, make sure you are in an area that has a strong signal and make sure you have enough battery for your call. If possible, use a landline or home phone for the call. In addition to these phone interview tips, have a pen and pad of paper ready to take notes. There might be something you want to follow up on in the call or to write down a sequence of a question or anything you determine relevant that you want to remember. Having a pad of paper and pen helps a lot. I always have one right next to me for each call, and on average, fill up half a sheet with notes.

You should also have your resume nearby in case you get a specific question about your resume that for some reason you can’t recall. One thing I do on phone interviews is have my resume open on half of my screen and the job description matched to my own skills on the other half. I use this as a quick reference in case I need it.

Calls Aren’t Always Scheduled

I personally hate this because it is a real hit or miss on the interviewer’s part and many times you can’t talk when they call, but some interviewers still do this. OK, so now we know that they might call, so we need to be ready for this. Start answering the phone in a more polite and professional manner. You don’t want to create the wrong impression when the interviewer calls. If you do receive a call, don’t be afraid to ask for a few minutes to go to a quiet place. This will give you a minute or two to go to a quiet room, open up your computer, grab your pen and pad of paper, tell other people living with you that you are on an interview call and can’t be disturbed. This is a must-do! The worst thing that can happen is that you get multiple disturbances during your call.  This makes you lose your train of thought and makes you look amateur and unprofessional.

Often, the interviewer has called at a bad time and you can’t talk. If this is the case, ask if you can schedule a better time to talk and offer suggested times. You can say something like,

“Thanks for your call, (name), but at the moment I really can’t take your call as I am jumping into a meeting or (something else). Could we set up a call at the one of the following times (times)?”

This should suffice. However, I have had interviewers call me, and when I politely tell them that I am jumping into a meeting, they ask for 5 minutes of my time. This is aggressive but can happen. If you have the 5 minutes, take the call as they will want to setup a specific time for another interview, video conference, or office visit.

Phone Interview Tips – Do’s and Don’ts

Don’ts 1

Never chew gum or eat during the interview phone call. This is incredibly annoying, unprofessional and a complete turn off to the interviewer. If you are looking to create a good first impression avoid these things. You may of course, have a glass of water next to your table for the call. This is acceptable and a must.

Don’t 2

Don’t speak too fast. I know you might get nervous and might have the tendency to cut certain words or talk too fast but try your hardest to speak calmly. Additionally, watch out for slang in your interview. Certain interviewers may not appreciate this. You should also try to enunciate your words clearly and correctly.

Do 1

Since this is a phone interview, try standing instead of sitting. Also, try to talk with a smile. I know this may sound funny, but the interviewer can normally tell your mood on the other line. Try to create a better perception for the interviewer. Stand and smile through the interview as this will help emit enthusiasm in your voice.

Do 2

As you go through the phone interview, you might be asked a question that you do not have an immediate answer to. Take a minute to think. You could say something like, “let me think about that for a minute.” This is a perfectly acceptable answer and expected. After all, no interviewer wants you to walk in to the interview with 100% canned (ready-made) answers.

Do 3

You should keep it formal in the beginning. Use formal salutations such as Mr. Mrs. Ms. followed by their last names. In most cases, the interviewer will probably say, please call me Bob, or Susan. Etc. Then you may address them by their suggested name. One thing I always look for is how they write their name or sign off in emails. I normally go by that name.

Do 4

Make sure to listen in the interview. The worst thing is to be a conversation dominator. If you prove that you cannot listen, your chances of getting the position are pretty slim. So, make sure you listen and not just dominate the conversation.

Remember, as you have this phone interview, your main goal is to get your foot in the door to have a live face-to-face interview! If you are invited for a Skype Interview, review this article.


Wrap Up

I know I might have missed some other valuable phone interview tips, so please feel free to add some in the comments section below along with any other comments you have. I hope that this article has shed some light on the phone interview process and that it helps you nail your next phone interview.

For more articles on interview tips and job search, go to the CareerPrep Blog and also visit the CareerPrep and EnglishInterviews Youtube channels for video!

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