12 Tips for Phone Interview Success

Green telephones and cell phones, from antique to modern.

Phone interviews are now a common, and critical, part of the hiring process. Companies use phone interviews to quickly identify the best candidates for their open positions. It is often your first “live” interaction with a potential employer, so making the right impression is key. The goal of a phone interview is to get an in-person interview at the company.

Some candidates are intimidated by a phone interview. It’s hard to gauge the interviewer’s reaction to you when you can’t see their face or read their body language. Other candidates feel the phone interview is easy. You are in the comfort of your own home and the interviewer can’t see you – you can be in your pajamas if you want! Whichever way you feel, utilize these tips to help you nail the phone interview and secure a face-to-face meeting:

  1. Prepare. A phone interview is like an open-book exam; you get to have everything you need right in front of you. However, if you are not prepared, the interviewer will hear crickets on your end of the phone while you search your computer for your resume or notes from a specific project. 
  2. Have your resume, the job description, notes, and information about the company in front of you before the interview starts. Think of it as a “cheat sheet” to help you remember the facts during an interview.
  3. Anticipate the questions the interviewer may ask and have answers ready. For engineering positions, interviewers are likely to ask about your technical skills. Be ready to showcase your skills with examples. (For more on answering interview questions, click here.)
  4. Take it seriously. It is not “just” a phone interview. It is a critical step in the process. Be well rested and dress the part. When you look good, you feel good and your confidence will be heard. (Now may be the time to rethink those pajamas…). 
  5. Be early. Call the number provided a few minutes early. The interviewer may be conducting several phone interviews back-to-back. If you are late, you will have less time to discuss your skills. If the interviewer is calling you, be ready at least 5 minutes before the scheduled time. Make sure you have a professional voicemail message recorded in case you miss the call or have bad phone reception. That being said…
  6. Make sure you have a reliable phone connection! If possible, use a landline.
  7. Minimize distractions – do not have a TV on in the background, do not be in a room with your kids or pets, and do not have your email application open. You want to be as focused as you would be if you were at an in-person interview.
  8. Smile. Even though the interviewer can’t see you, smiling changes the tone of your voice. It makes you sound friendly, upbeat, and interested.
  9. Pay attention to your tone and pace. The interviewer cannot see you, so you must make sure he/she can HEAR your enthusiasm for the position and company. Also, do not speak too fast. Speak clearly and at a normal pace to make sure you are understood. Let the interviewer ask questions but also ask some of your own. Remember, an interview is a conversation. Remaining relaxed and confident will help you make a great impression.
  10. Do not ask about salary or benefits. The phone interview is not the time to discuss this. Focus on selling yourself and demonstrating what you can do for the company.
  11. Ask about the next steps. At the end of the interview, ask what the next step is and when you will hear from them again. Ask for contact information to follow up. Also, express your interest in the company and position one more time.
  12. Write a thank you note. Thank the interviewer for his/her time, highlight your skills, and reiterate your interest in the position. (For more on writing thank you notes, click here.)

Acing your phone interview will put you one step closer to landing your next job. Use the tips above to prepare so you can hang up the phone knowing you’ve done your best.

About the Author:

This article is written by Kelly Laurel, Former Operations Manager at Automationtechies.

Catch her on LinkedIn.