phoneCordThere are different ways to interview.   The most popular and traditional way to interview is in-person where you meet face-to-face with the employer or recruiter. Most recently there is the online video calling service option. This is where a service such as Skype may be used and both parties may see each other without the requirement of being in the same room or even time zone. And then there is the phone interview. The phone interview is just behind the traditional in-person interview in commonality.

Since phone interviews are just as likely to be offered as a traditional interview it is important that they are practiced and prepared for as well. There are many different reasons that an employer may choose to interview a candidate by phone. It may be that they are screening out a pool of potentials.  Possibly there is an issue of access. The candidate may be relocating without the option of making a personal appearance. Whatever the reason may be the candidate should be aware that there are action, etiquette and steps that may  be followed for a successful phone interview. There are three different phases in a phone interview: Before the Interview, During the Interview and After the Interview.


Before the Interview

  • Acknowledge the importance of the phone interview. If the phone interview is the interview that is offered to you rather than an option be aware that this may be the difference between a second interview and simple introduction. With that in mind treat this interview just as you would an interview in person. Another thing to consider in the job search is your voice mail. Since communication will most likely be made by phone for the phone interview be aware of trendy ring back tones and inappropriate voice mail messages like those where you’re tricking someone into thinking it’s you answering rather than a message. Your professionalism should be on at all times even prior to picking up the phone to talk to the employer.
  • Respect the scheduling process. Follow directions given throughout all pre-communications. Be available during normal working hours and keep answers concise.
  • Research the organization and the position.Do your homework on the organization. Be sure to make references to recent articles and work. This is not a conversation with your pal this is a professional conversation with your potential employer be sure to convey to them that you know something about who they are as a company.
  • Prepare thoughtful questions and a final statement in advance. Expect that the interview will conclude with the offer to ask questions. Prepare questions in advance and take notes in advance to modify any questions that you might have after speaking with the interviewer.
  • dadonphoneTake control of your environment. Use a land line if at all possible. Cell phones can drop calls and there is nothing worst than being in the middle of a “money call” and being cut off. If you’re only option is a mobile phone choose your location wisely. Be sure to choose a place that has great reception. Also, be aware of being somewhere with lots of noise and other distractions. Secure a babysitter if you have small children at home and kick the dog, the cat, and the rest of the household members out of your interview space. Choose a place that is quiet and will allow  you to focus.

During the Call

  • Be enthusiastic. Just as in-person, first impressions are everything. Be happy, be enthusiastic, sound like a nice person. Standing during the interview may help with this.
  • Remember that your interviewer is taking notes. Speak clearly, realize that someone on the other line is taking notes that they will want to review later.
  • Stay focused. No multi-tasking! This is not the time to have the phone on speaker, texting or looking through Facebook. Take notes as the interviewer asks questions so that you may stay on topic. Let the interviewer know that you’re taking notes if your pen is slower than your responses so that there is not a strike against you.
  • Communicate a balance of passion and experience. Be passionate and show how your passion has translated throughout your work in past experiences. Let the employer know not just by saying that you are passionate, but by conveying that you bring abilities to the organization that will help them continue to grow and are in line with their mission. The recruiter/employer needs to know that you share their vision.
  • Be honest about your salary requirements. Here is another point when you may be getting “screened out.” Be honest! If this is brought up during the interview there is a good chance it is because there is not room for negotiation. If money is an issue for you an it is something that you can’t budge on you should make the interviewer aware of this. Otherwise you may be wasting both of your time.
  • Close strong. Conclude with a thoughtful pitch as to why you are the best candidate for the position. The last impression is just as important as the first impression in the phone interview.


After the Phone Interview

  • Write thank you notes. 24 hours after the interview let the employer know that you appreciated the opportunity to interview. After a great first-impression and conclusion pitch this may be what bumps you to the top of the final decision list.
  • Manage the frequency of your follow-up. There is a such a thing as being too anxious. Be aware that many times the person you’re interviewing with does do more than interview candidates or there could be a big pool of people that are interviewing. Be considerate of their time. Don’t ruin your chances by checking in on the offer too often. You can avoid this by asking the employer at the conclusion of the interview what the follow-up process will be like.

The phone interview can make the difference between moving ahead in the hiring process or checking your candidacy at the door. With careful preparation and a positive attitude, you can sail through the phone interview and emerge as a strong candidate for the role.

Don’t forget to take a look back at all things “Interview” for more insight. Don’t hesitate to give Career Services a call if you’re needing help.


Adapted from:

The Art of the Phone Interview (2013, July 24). Retrieved from

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