Telephone Interview


Telephone interviews are a way of identifying and recruiting candidates for employment. Often they are used to screen candidates in order to narrow the pool of applicants who will be invited for face to face interviews. They are also used as way to minimize the expenses involved in interviewing out of town candidates.

It's important to be prepared for a phone interview on a moment's notice while you're looking for a job. You never know when a recruiter or a networking contact might call and ask if you have a few minutes to talk. Review these tips for more advice on how to pull off your phone interview.

Prepare for the Interview - Prepare for a phone interview just as you would for a regular interview. Compile a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Plan on being prepared for a phone conversation about your background and skills.

  • Keep your resume in clear view, on the top of your desk or tape it to the wall near the phone, so it's there when you need to answer questions.
  • Have a short list of your accomplishments available to review.
  • Have a pen and paper handy for note taking.
  • Turn call-waiting off so your call isn't interrupted.
  • If the time isn't convenient, ask if you could talk at another time and suggest some alternatives.
  • Clear the room - evict the kids and the pets. Turn off the stereo and the TV. Close the door.
  • Unless you're sure your cell phone service is going to be perfect, consider using a landline rather than your cell phone to avoid a dropped call or static on the line. 
  • Practice for the Interview - Talking on the phone isn't as easy as it seems. It is normally helpful to practice. Have a friend or family member conduct a mock interview and record it so you can see how you sound over the phone. Any digital/cassette recorder will work. You'll be able to hear your "ums" and "uhs" and "okays" and you can practice reducing them from your conversational speech. Rehearse answers to typical questions you think you will be asked. 

    During the Phone Interview

    • Don't smoke, chew gum, eat, or drink.
    • Do keep a glass of water handy, in case you need to wet your mouth.
    • Smile. Smiling will project a positive image to the listener and will change the tone of your voice.
    • Speak slowly and enunciate clearly.
    • Use the person's title (Mr. or Ms. and their last name.) Only use a first name if they ask you to.
    • Don't interrupt the interviewer.
    • Take your time - it's perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts.
    • Give short answers.
    • Remember your goal is to set up a face to face interview. After you thank the interviewer, ask what are the next steps in the process or if it would be possible to meet in person.

    After the Interview:

    • Take notes about what you were asked and how you answered.
    • Remember to say "thank you." Follow with a thank you note which reiterates your interest in the job.