8 Tips for a Successful Phone Interview

Chances are you will or have already participated in a phone interview. Many companies and recruiters use phone interviews as an initial screening before an in-person interview. You might even have one if the company is out-of-state or in a different country.

In a phone interview, you have two assets: your voice and your preparation.

Whether you feel relaxed talking on the phone or feel more awkward than an in-person interview, preparing for a phone interview is important.

1.  Ensure You Use a Good Phone

Whether you use a cellphone or a landline, make sure the phone is high quality. You don’t want the call to cut out or disconnect in the middle of your interview. In most cases, it may not be your fault, but it doesn’t present a good first impression.

2.  When to Take the Call

If you schedule the interview, schedule it for when you know you are completely available. If you are currently working, try to schedule it for a time you won’t be at work or when you will be at lunch. In some cases, a recruiter might call you at an inconvenient time. Explain that it isn’t a good time to talk and reschedule for another time either that day or the following day.

3.  Keep Notes and Proper Documentation in Front of You

Make a cheat sheet of common questions that an interviewer would ask you and bullet points for your answers. Also have the job description as a reference for what they are searching for.

4.  Focus on your Vocal Delivery

Phone interviews rely so heavily on your voice to deliver a great first impression, since the interviewer can’t develop a first impression from visual cues, such as your body language or overall appearance. Because your voice is all you have, it’s very important to make sure you speak clearly and use a positive voice and language. Here are a few tricks to help:

  • Smile: When you smile while you talk, it makes your voice sound upbeat and confident. Your smile will be “heard” over the phone.
  • Look in a mirror: Place a mirror by the phone to glance into before and during the interview. It will help remind you to smile and it will help give you confidence.
  • Stand while talking: You might feel more comfortable sitting while talking on the phone. Don’t. Studies show that people who stand think better than those sitting. It will also help you sound clearer over the phone.
  • Dress up: Sitting around your house in your pajamas is not going to help make your voice sound professional. Dress in interview attire from head to toe. This will help you think and sound professionally.

5.  Lead the Interviewer Online (If Possible)

If you have a web portfolio or a complete Linkedin profile, this is the step that will impress the interviewer. If your interviewer asks about your accomplishments or challenges in your experience, simply ask them if they have access to the Internet and direct them to your website or Linkedin profile. It’s best executed if the URL is located on your resume. Because a phone interview lacks visuals, this enhances the interview experience. If you don’t have a complete Linkedin profile or web portfolio, we would recommend you develop one for your next phone interview.

6.  Prepare Questions

Just like any interview, you should always have questions prepared to ask the interviewer. For good questions to ask, click here.

7.  “What’s the Next Step?”

This should be part of the questions that you ask the interviewer. You shouldn’t get off the phone without asking what the next steps are in the interview process. This shows the interviewer that you’re interested.

8.  Send a Thank You note

Just because it’s over the phone doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send the interviewer a thank you note. Make sure before you get off the phone you get the interviewer’s contact information. Even if it’s a simple, but genuine email, this can make a big impact in their decision-making.


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