Phone Interview Tips for Your Upcoming Interview

A phone interview is a common way for employers to connect with job candidates. Here’s the best tips to use for your own phone interview.

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Phone Interview Tips

So, you’ve created a great resume and cover letter, successfully passed both through the applicant tracking system (ATS), impressed a hiring manager and now it’s time for your job interview. In some cases, this means a face-to-face meeting, but phone interviews are becoming more and more common. So, what is a phone interview? How does it differ from a traditional interview and how can you ace yours to ensure you get a second interview?

What is a Phone Interview?

At its core, a telephone interview is just a job interview that takes place over the phone; so, while it may look and feel a little different, you should treat it the same way as you would a traditional interview. The main difference is that the recruiter will not be able to see you (unless the job interview is conducted via Zoom or an equivalent platform). This takes some of the stress out of interviews for some people and means that you don’t need to spend preparation time worrying about your appearance. However, this also means all of the focus will be on what you say and how you answer interview questions.

There are a few reasons why companies opt to conduct initial interviews over the phone. The most common are:

  • To quickly eliminate unsuitable candidates
  • To connect with international candidates
  • To speed up the interview process when choosing among numerous candidates
  • To interview candidates who are out of town or unavailable for an in-person meeting

Phone interviews require fewer resources and time to conduct, so many businesses now prefer them for initial discussions. Most follow-up interviews will take place in person assuming there are no mitigating circumstances such as distance. Incredibly specialized positions may be open to international candidates, so the majority of the interview process may be by phone or video conferencing options.


Top Tips for Phone Interview Preparation

When preparing for a telephone interview there are a number of things that all job seekers should keep in mind:

  • Add the interviewer’s number to your contacts.
  • Confirm the details as far in advance of the scheduled time as possible. (Never less than 24 hours in advance.)
  • Remove distractions from the area you intend to be in during the interview.
  • Check for things that could obscure or muffle your speech.
  • Remove or mitigate sources of background noise that could interfere with communication.
  • Charge your cell phone if needed.

In addition to these preparations, you should take steps to prepare for the specifics of your upcoming interview. This means researching the company and the job title you are applying for. Take note of the company’s goals and challenges as well as any specific aspects of the organization that appeal to you. Once you have done this, you should consider the job description once more and take note of achievements and experiences you have that make you perfect for the role.

Create a “cheat sheet” with this information so you can use it during the phone call. On this sheet, you should also make a list of follow-up questions that you wish to ask the hiring manager. Remember that a first interview is not the time to discuss salary expectations—the only exception to this is if the recruiter specifically asks you about this topic. Finally, practice answering common job interview questions with a friend or family member to get an idea of how you can improve your oral communication. ResumeHelp has a number of common phone interview questions and sample answers that you can consider.

Tips for the Actual Interview

When the day of the interview arrives, make sure you have eaten, get a glass of water, use the restroom and ensure that you have a quiet place to conduct the interview. This will minimize the likelihood of distractions—a telephone interview that flows smoothly and without interruption will make a great first impression on a potential employer. Finally, make sure that you have a copy of your resume in front of you in case the recruiter asks questions about specific information on it.

Once the phone interview begins there are some basic things that you can keep in mind to help you really impress the recruiter and land a follow-up interview:

  • Be prepared to confirm your contact information.
  • Be positive when talking about your current or previous jobs.
  • Be truthful and concise in your answers.
  • Be confident and direct about what makes you a great job candidate.
  • Actively listen to questions before answering.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
  • Be polite and formal.
  • Ask follow-up questions.

Once the interview has concluded, there is not much else you can do to secure a second job interview beyond sending a thank-you note or email. A short, formal thank you email will help you to remain memorable in the recruiter’s mind and is considered good job interview etiquette.


FAQ: Phone Interview Tips

Q: Is a phone interview better than other types of interviews?

Not really. Phone interviews allow recruiters to get the same information as face-to-face interviews. If you have the option to choose one or the other, choose whichever you feel will allow you to showcase your abilities best.

Q: Are phone interviews less formal than in-person interviews?

No, telephone interviews are still considered formal interviews. Be sure to maintain the same demeanor and attitude as you would in a traditional job interview if you want to progress to the next round.

Q: How should I speak in a phone interview?

As the emphasis is on your speech and the interviewer cannot see your facial expressions and body language, you should speak as clearly as possible and take your time. This will ensure effective communication and prevent the need for repetition. You will also want to use your vocal tone to show your excitement about potentially working for the company that is performing the interview. A monotone voice will sound sleepy and unexcited.

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