Land your Next Job with These 9 Phone Interview Tips


You've heard from your hiring manager and things are looking positive. There is an important step in the initial screening protocol to master: the phone interview. Every job interview process can vary between businesses; however, if there is a competitive posting, the phone interview gives employers a basic place to start. It provides an ideal place to identify applicants who are unqualified. 

Practice these nine tips to ace your phone interview and ensure you’ll be invited for a follow-up. 

Stay Prepared

Have everything you need before you sit down to take the call. Have a copy of the job description and your resume. Ideally, you will have reviewed the job description well in advance. You will be better organized to explain why you are an ideal candidate for the job if you understand the details of the position. 

Emphasize your resume skills and showcase how they match the job description during your phone call. 

Keep your conversation natural to avoid sounding like you are reading verbatim. You might think it is helpful to have your laptop in front of you, but this can be distracting too. Try to memorize your key points and professional details to keep the conversation more personal.

Eliminate Distractions during your Phone Interview

There can be numerous things that can distract and disrupt you during your important interview. Ensure there is a quiet place to conduct the call. Eliminate background noises like traffic, TV, noisy kids, cappuccino machines, loud roommates and barking dogs. Tell anyone around that you will be taking this phone interview to buy yourself some space and peace and quiet. 

Concise Answers are Best

There are customary pauses during conversations and complete lulls to be aware of. Note that any pause is not an automatic invitation to ramble on. Once you answer a question, be polite and allow the hiring manager time to respond with a follow-up inquiry or a comment. They may be taking notes on their end as well. Avoid constantly talking or overwhelming them with details. 

Give yourself a moment to articulate your response and listen to what the question is before you respond. You want to avoid blurting out answers and be strategic in your responses. Try to limit yourself to a minute or two per question. 

If you are caught off-guard or draw a blank, simply buy yourself some more time by saying, "That's a good question, I think.." This allows you an extra second to recall a response instead of replying with "Ummm..." or having a blank look on your face. 

Take Notes

Taking notes during the interview is a great idea. You can track the questions that are asked and note your responses. Sometimes, it is tricky to recall conversation details later so having notes to look back on is wise. 

If the interviewer goes over a specific job aspect or skill more than once, it is a clear indicator that this will be part of your future conversation if you are invited to an in-person interview. Keeping track of this information can help you formulate a cohesive response for your future meeting. 

Do any questions come up during your phone call? Jot them down if they do. You may hear something that needs more clarity and if you take notes, you can discuss it later. Typically, it's better not to interrupt the conversation flow and leave your questions until the end of the phone interview.

Practice Active Listening during the Interview

Some people suffer from extreme anxiety during the interview process. It can be easy to get distracted during your call by nerves. You might worry about your previous answer and become distracted that you are not fully listening to the next question. 

Ensure you stay present and stay engaged in the conversation. Save yourself some stress and don't start analyzing your interview until after the interview is over and you are off the phone. 

Build a Cheat Sheet

Your genuine interest in the position can set you apart from other potential employees. Create a cheat sheet that includes your professional details, and company questions about the atmosphere, the business and other questions you have about the job. Be specific and ask important questions. 

By asking questions about the company atmosphere and environment, you relate to your potential employer that you are a team player. The questions you ask can give insight into your work habits and your personality.

Pretend you are not on the Phone 

Try to forget that you are on a phone call. Get dressed up as though you were attending an interview in person. They say, if you look the part, you will act the part. This can help create confidence and make you feel more prepared. 

Some people swear by having a mirror nearby to help you remember to smile. Keep some enthusiasm in your voice and be friendly. Your potential employer is looking for a great cultural fit and this is your initial chance to showcase your personality. 

The main mistake you can make during the phone interview is sounding disengaged, bored, monotone, or tired. Let your passion and energy for your position radiate. You may wish to stand like you are delivering a speech to keep your energy zeroed in and focused.

Take Your Time 

You may spend a significant amount of time preparing for your interview. Of course, you want to make sure you successfully mention your main aspects. Go slow and try not to be too eager when you are delivering your answers. 

It can be easy to provide too many details in every answer. Take a minute to gain your composure before the phone call. Stay calm and remember that you are having a conversation and not giving a personal presentation during the interview. 

Having a natural conversation will leave a positive impression on your future employer that will go farther than your resume. 

Follow Up At the End Of the Call

Prior to the call ending, ask about the next steps and reiterate how interested you are in the job. Ask about the approximate timeline for when you can expect to hear about their decision. 

Send a thank-you email within 24 hours to the hiring manager after the call for taking the time to talk with you. Some people may additionally choose to send a handwritten note within 48 hours of the interview. This can help you stand above any competitors and be more memorable. 

Rocking Your Interview

If you are hoping to be invited for an in-person interview, you need to ace the phone interview. Understand that if the employer doesn't have a firm date for hiring someone, they may not have a specific date to contact you by. 

Remain prepared for every option. Once you hang up, take note of any new information you have learned during the interview about the position and company details. 

Prepare for the next steps and visualize yourself working for the company while the interview is fresh. Using the above ideas can help you stay ahead of any curveballs that may come. Stay extra prepared by rehearsing some of the more generic questions in advance.