Phone Interviews

Top 3 Tips For Phone Interviews


More and more companies are relying on phone screens, or phone interviews, as a preliminary gauge of whether or not a candidate should be invited for an in-person interview. Phone interviews are generally less expensive and time-intensive for the company, so don’t be surprised if you are contacted for this type of interview.

Related: #1 Secret For An Interview-Snatching Phone Screening

Some candidates don’t feel a phone interview is a real interview, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, this may be your gateway for getting in the door at a company, so don’t blow it on the phone!

Tips For Phone Interviews

Here are some tips to help you navigate the world of phone interviews:

1. Treat the phone interview the same way you would an in-person job interview.

This means that you should be focused and come prepared with knowledge of both the company and the job. One benefit of having a phone interview is that you can have company materials in front of you for handy reference. Some people like to have the company’s website in front of them on a computer screen and others like to have a copy of their resume or job description.

Figure out what works best for you and have those things available before you take the call. Be sure that you aren’t typing while you’re doing the phone interview. The interviewer may be able to hear your keyboard clicking, so pull up all the necessary websites and documents a few minutes before your scheduled call time.

2. If you must take the call from your cell phone, make sure you are in an area that has good reception and you’re in a quiet environment.

Background noises are very distracting to the interviewer and you want to make sure that the interviewer knows you are taking the interview seriously. If you take the call at a coffee shop or restaurant, you really aren’t in control of the ambient noise. Would you want a screaming toddler to interrupt your train of thought and be distracting to the person on the other end of the phone? Probably not.

If you don’t have a quiet space available in your home, check with your local library to see if they have a meeting space you can reserve for free.

3. Eliminate any distractions while on the phone.

For example, turn off your computer’s speakers, find a babysitter for your children, put your dog outside, etc. You should only be focusing on what the interviewer is saying. It’s very difficult to do so when there are other things competing for your attention.

After the phone interview concludes, send a quick e-mail to your interviewers to thank them for their time. This goes a long way in indicating that you are still interested in the position.

This post was originally published on an earlier date.

Related Posts

What To Do On A Phone Interview
How To Handle Tough Interview Questions
The Biggest Mistake You Can Make In A Phone Interview


Photo Credit: Shutterstock


  1. One of the biggest dilemmas relating to #2:

    There is issue if you have to do an phone interview in a very wooded area at your home when cell phone reception is not best and home phone is used by someone else. This has been a live/learn situation for me. Once I had a 1st phone interview with a nice company and I was to be called at 1:30 PM by a lady in HR and I was sitting in a quiet room downstairs in my house, but unexpectedly and unknowingly I noticed my cell phone didn’t ring at all at 1:30 or later and when 1:45 came around I gave a call to my interviewer on the home phone with better quality than the cell phone. I told her how I didn’t get a ring for some reason and apologized and she was so nice and understanding, bless her heart.

    She sounded understanding and when I tried to inquire of whether she was able to reach my phone, she said she tried calling and heard the ringing and somewhere said nicely not to worry too much as she has experienced such as a recruiter of similar she has faced herself when others try to reach her or when she has tried to reach others. Fortunately, she asked if I still had some time to do a screening and then she asked ?s with me answering and I asked my questions which she seemed to like and kept saying that is such a good question. Later in the day, I sent a thank you note recalling the good she said in the phone screening along with reiterating my interest and mentioning the gratitude of a networking contact/friend who referred me to Pedigree. During our phone interview she said the next process consists of a 2nd interview via skype or face with the department manager next week.

    What do you all say and think? Any feedback is welcome. Thanks!

  2. If I know who is going to be interviewing me I try to find a picture of them (check LinkedIn, company web site, etc.) and have it in front of me while I’m on the phone with them. It helps to make the connection feel more personal.

  3. And yes, I’m aware you can try to reschedule the call, but like someone said – it’s a race. You don’t know how many candidates this caller has reached out to nor do you know the extent of their interest in you. The best bet is to try and recall them as soon as possible when you’re out of the office or you might lose the opportunity. But if you can’t go in a private room to talk then find somewhere in your building that you know has low traffic and is fairly quiet (and hopefully you know your boss won’t come by).

  4. Great advice. But there is one issue, some people can’t always take a phone call in a quiet home/office because they’re at work. And taking a phone call where you’re being head hunted, etc. while at work can still be seen as unprofessional from both your employer and potential employer.

  5. Great tips on phone interviews! Wish I had read this before I had an interview via Skype. My first one via a cam. It was weird. How do you write a thank you letter to someone who is not online anymore?

  6. As a Recruitment agency we telephone interview every candidate before inviting them in for interview. This helps us ensure we are not inviting someone for interview who is not suitable for the role. There are some common issues that slows the process down or can reflect negitivley on the candidate.

    Asking the recruiter to call back at X:xxpm and not answering the call when they do call back.

    Not being prepared with a CV or dates of previous employment

    Poor reception or location when the call has been prearranged

    Interuptions due to the enviroment. If your family is around then prewarn them that you are due a call and need to be left alone, take yourself into a different room preferably without a TV blasting in the background.

    I agree with the points above about treating the telephone interview exactly the same as a face to face. You would not expect your face to face interview to take place at the side of a dual carriage way so set the same standard when arranging a telephone interview.

    • considering how badly some recruiters treat interested parties I am always amazed when recruiters give tips on behaviour. I can’t remember how many jobs I applied for 4 years ago and on so many occasions
      I never heard back or had a call back from a recruiter. not to mention the times I was asked to submit a response to selection criteria only to find later the job was never real. All that I have read is known and one thing is sure don’t put your next job search in the hands of a recruiter. learn to network and find your own role and build your own future.

      • Displaced Legal Professional

        You are absolutely correct. Recruiters treating candidates poorly and then giving career advice is like the pot calling the kettle black.

        Conduct your job search yourself by proactively applying to employers.

  7. One tip that I use: try to be in control of the interview, ask questions, be professional. If the candidate is not in a convenient location, and there is noise, then excuse yourself, step away from the noise, or ask the employer if you can call back when you are at a more convenient location / situation.
    This shows confidence in you. And yes “Put a smile in your voice”.

  8. Phone Interviewing Techniques for companys’

    The reason for phone interviewing is to save time and money. You can quickly screen potential candidates and get a “feeling”, or a sense about the person. Included in this package are sample questions for your; however I would urge you not to sit there and go down this list on the phone. You might want to pick one or two of these questions to use as a topic for discussion. Use the rest later on in a face to face interview. You can learn a lot about a person if you listen.

    The Techniques of a Pro
    • Smile – it comes through in your voice.
    • This first call should not be more than 30 minutes.
    • Speak directly into the phone.
    • Don’t smoke, chew gum, eat or drink anything. It all telegraphs to your listener.
    • Stand up. Your voice sounds stronger.
    • Avoid ah, er, hum. This habit is especially noticeable on the telephone. This takes practice. So practice.
    For a winning performance
    • Confirm the caller’s name and current company, and title. Get the caller’s telephone number.
    • Have a copy of his/her résumé in front of you.
    • Have a list of your questions (not too many) in front of you.
    • Be aware that the caller can’t see you – can’t see your hand gestures, they can’t see you taking notes.
    • Pace the call. Let the candidate do most of the talking, without interruptions.
    • Do use the technique of repeating or re-phrasing questions. It tells the caller that you listened carefully, and gives you time to think about your answer.
    • Avoid the simple yes or no; add selling points at every opportunity.
    • If you need time to think, say so – as in radio, silence during a telephone conversation is dead air time.
    • Do not discuss compensation.
    • End the conversation with that K&Co. will be in contact with you next.
    Some questions that you might consider are;
    1. We are looking for someone who can demonstrate them following;
    • A track record of high energy and team leadership
    • A demonstrated record of comparable past performance
    • A strong ability to adapt and produce in a new environment
    2. One of our key objectives for the person who is offered this position will be to …(describe a top performance objective). Can you tell me about your most important comparable accomplishments?
    • Look for job-specific competencies.
    • Ask for specific details in order to minimize exaggeration.

    Anchor each major performance objective for the position with a past accomplishment of the candidate.

    • How painful it is to be placed in a position that you need to be a perfect candidate. I think its time we put employers under the same scrutiny.

  9. This is a good tips but u know that the interview phone call happens suddenly..second if u can conclude the questions like (why u would like to join this company) something like that it will be great

  10. Here’s a tip I would always give my candidates. GET DRESSED. Sounds silly, but get dressed for the interview. It will help you get your “professional” on, as well as get you focused and in the right frame of mind! Going into a phone interview wearing your sweats and slippers vs. professional attire makes a big difference. I landed the job I have now with Aquent through a series of phone interviews.

    • Listen to Jennifer! Getting dressed really is helpful!
      And do stand upright while you are talking on the phone!
      Your voice will be much clearer, stronger and better to understand. This is a possibility to show self-confidence, power and motivation – even on the telephone.

  11. Well, its good. Please also add how to start in the phone interview if the interviewer calls, and how to address the questions asked. It is also important that active listening is essential here otherwise, overlapping of the conversation may interrupt to give appropriate answer.

  12. Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday.
    It will always be useful to read content from other writers and practice something from their web

  13. The phone screen is basically your first interview in a series of interviews. It’s crucial to prep accordingly. We recommend to review the job description and your Resume immediately before the call. Come prepared to explain your current situation and any red flags on your Resume – and talk with a smile!

  14. 100% agree with Jan & Jana,
    Have your notes ready, questions to ask, and be ready for case study questions with profit and cost drivers, etc.
    … and the phone format gives you a chance to ask for time to make notes, which you can use to think through issues and options.
    Finally, stand up and smile – it really does come through as a positive attitude.

  15. I’ve never been able to pull off a stellar phone interview in my life. I can think of only one time when I got hired after a phone interview. They are so impersonal and without being able to see the interviewer’s body language, it’s hard to tell when to continue talking or waiting for the next question. Just last month, I blew a chance to work with a company I’ve been eyeing for a while because my interviewer did not understand that my reception was bad and I couldn’t hear half of the things he was saying. Really frustrating.

  16. What I like about phone interviews is having all my notes spread out in front of me to refer to during the interview. Unlikely that you can do that during an in person interview!

  17. Great advice! It’s also a good idea to practice good posture and smile during the phone interview — although the interviewer won’t be able to see you, they’ll be able to hear the professionalism and positivity in your voice.

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