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Telephone Interview Tips

Telephone interview tips

Many companies use phone interviews as an initial employment screening technique to develop a smaller pool of candidates for the face-to-face interview process. Phone interviews also save time and eliminate travel costs if a company is interviewing a number of out-of-town candidates. Continue reading to discover proven telephone interview tips  that can help you land your next job.

Whatever the reason, it is important to remember that you should prepare for a phone interview just as you would for an in- person interview. That means researching the company, studying the job description, and practicing your responses to anticipated questions. It also means acting professionally and not slouching, eating, smoking or chewing gum during the interview. Since you are unlikely to win the job from a telephone interview, your goal is to secure an in-person interview with the person who has the authority to hire. Approach the call with that attitude.

Tips for a successful phone interview

When you accept the invitation for the phone interview, be sure to get confirmation in writing about who is calling whom and at what number. You don’t want to be sitting around waiting for a call while your interviewer is doing the same thing. Other telephone interview tips include:

Make sure are prepared and have the following:

  • Your resume and cover letter
  • The job ad/posting
  • Pen and paper to take notes
  • A list of your accomplishments that relate to the job you are discussing
  • General research you have done on the company
  • A list of questions about the job and company
  • Have a glass of water and a few mints nearby; if your throat gets dry, you don’t want to start coughing
  • Your calendar, in case you need to book your next interview

During the interview:

  • Turn off the call waiting on your phone and take the call in a quiet place free from interruptions
  • Answer the phone professionally if the interviewer is calling you
  • Take your time
  • Smile – smiling while responding is communicated through your tone
  • Speak slowly and directly into the phone – enunciate your words and don’t mumble
  • Stand up – you sound more self-confident and your voice sounds stronger
  • Time yourself – you don’t want to talk for too long. Have a clock nearby and keep answers to less than two minutes.
  • Don't multi-task, smoke, chew gum or eat during the call

Don't forget to:

  • Be sure to get the caller's name, telephone number and email
  • Let the caller do most of the talking, without interruptions
  • Repeating or re-phrasing questions before you begin answering is encouraged  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
  • Avoid ah, er, and um  this habit is especially noticeable on the telephone, so make sure you practice 
  • If you need time to think, say so – don’t just pause without warning
  • Express your interest in the job and the company, using different inflections while speaking to demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm
  • At the end, re-affirm your qualifications, express your interest in the job and the company; say you would appreciate the opportunity to talk about the job further – in person
  • Remember to thank the interviewer and be sure to follow up with a note


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