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Phone Interview Tips & Tricks

Updated on April 3, 2012

Many companies phone interviews to pre-screen applicants before bringing them in for face to face interviews. A phone interview may seem intimidating because you’re not able to see the interviews reactions to your responses. Here are a few tips to having a successful phone interview.

Give Yourself Time

Make sure you have plenty of time set aside for your phone interview. Typically the will take 15 to 20 minutes, but could take 30 to 45 minutes depending on how your conversation with the interviewer goes. Don’t try to squeeze your phone interview into a lunch break or in between other appointments.

Have Your Resume & Job Descriptions Available

Make sure to have a copy of your resume handy, along with a list of your job descriptions. The interviewer will likely be looking at a copy of your resume and you’ll want to make sure you’re on the same page. Also the interview will probably ask you about specific task you preformed at previous jobs. Having a list handy will help to ensure you don’t skip over anything important that you want the interviewer to know.

Be Prepared

Prior to the interview review the companies for information such as products/ services offered, history, and mission statement. The mission statement is important because it gives you an idea of what the company values. It is best if you can use a land line, you don’t want poor cell service to interrupt your interview. If a land line is not available or you must use a cell phone make sure that your battery is fully charged and you are in a place where you get good service.

Make sure to have all materials; resume, job descriptions, pen and paper, and be in your quiet place ready for the phone interview at least 5 minutes before the scheduled time in case the interviewer calls early.


Make sure you are in a quiet place with minimal distractions that you can speak in a normal volume in. Make sure that family members or house mates know you will be on a phone interview so they can keep the noise and distractions to a minimum. If you have a pet especially if it’s a noisy puppy or dog make sure to put it away so that its playing or barking does not distract your phone interview.

Put Your Best Voice Forward

Since you don’t have the advantage of the interviewer being able to read your body language and other physical non verbal cues your voice needs to really project your meaning. Smiling while you talk projects in your voice making you sound warmer and more personable.


If you need to cough, sneeze, or handle distractions use the mute button. In most cases the person on the other line can’t tell when the line has been muted. So you can seamlessly handle any situations without the interview being interrupted. However if a major distraction occurs it is better to be honest with the interviewer. It is better to let them know, handle the situation, and get back on track with the phone interview; than to try to cover up a situation and appear to not be paying attention to the call.

Sell Yourself

The company’s goal in conducting phone interviews is to weed out candidates that are not good fits for the company prior to face to face interviews. Your goal in the phone interview is to sell yourself and land a face to face interview. Make sure your responses to questions are clear concise and reiterate your experience, interest in the position, and your desire for an in person interview. Also try to make your responses positive and upbeat. Being prepared for potential questions can help with this.

3 questions you will likely best asked in a phone interview

· Tell me something about yourself?

o Clear concise answer that touches on education, work history, and recent career experience. Make sure to transition your answer into how it relates to the job you are applying for.

· Why did you leave your last job?

o Practice this answer in advance

o No matter the case answer this question with a positive response (interview etiquette dictates that you not speak ill of previous employers or managers.) Speaking negative of your previous employer projects you as being negative and bitter, and no one wants to add a bitter person to their team.

· What do you know about the company?

o Review the company’s website for information such as products or services offered, history, mission statement, or new things coming in the future.

o Google the company to read recent articles or news about the company

o This question could be phrased as “Do you have any questions about the company?

§ By doing this research you will have information available either way the question is phrased or if you ‘re not asked the question you can get extra points for throwing in a tid bit about the company.

Don’t Talk Money

It’s best to hold off on talking money until the end of the interview process. The interviewer may try to bring up the issue. If so be vague. You can you phrases such as “It’s negotiable”, “I’d rather discuss salary in person”, or “I’d like to have a better idea of the total compensation package before discussing salary.” These phrases will typically hold off the interviewer, however if they insist try to give a range rather than a specific amount.

Thank You

Sending a thank you note is a great way to keep you fresh in the interviewers mind. Since you won’t have to commute home after the interview you won’t have to worry about travel time. So you should send a thank you note 1-2 hours after the phone interview. Make sure to bring up something from the interview and reiterate your interest in an in person interview. If you have already scheduled the in person interview, thank the interviewer for their time and confirm the date and time of your in person interview.

During your phone interview make sure to stay positive, answer clearly, and let your personality shine through with your voice, tone and words. Keep your eye on the prize of landing an in person interview.


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