How to Ace a Telephone Interview

Many companies use phone interviews to pre-screen candidates for a position before they schedule an in-person meeting, as it saves time on both parts and is a simple way to assess whether someone is right to proceed further in the hiring process. Some businesses however, particularly those who hire remote staff, may choose to conduct their main interviews via phone.

In this case, the interviewer will ask in-depth questions. If you are not prepared, you may be caught off-guard.

Here are some tips to help you be more prepared ahead of your call and to ace that telephone interview!

1. Answer your phone.

Most companies offer you a time window for your phone interview. The interviewer will call at the scheduled time to conduct the interview, and you should make sure that you are 100% available to answer the phone yourself when the interviewer calls. If you are afraid that you may miss the call for one reason or another, change your voicemail greeting to a professional one.

In the case that the company did not give you a time window and calls at a bad time, such as when you are driving, don’t hesitate to let the interviewer know and ask if you could call him or her back.

2. Do your homework.

The nice thing about a phone interview is that you can “cheat”. Before your interview, make a list of questions that the interviewer may ask and write down your answers. Research the company thoroughly, just like you are preparing for an in-person interview. Have these notes in front of you when the interviewer calls and refer to them as needed.

3. Listen carefully.

Let the interviewer talk and listen carefully. While you listen, take notes so that you will be able to respond to the key points when the interviewer has finished talking and also for later reference after the interview. Be attentive and do not interrupt your interviewer.

4. Talk clearly.

During an in-person interview, visual cues can give you hints on what the interviewer is thinking, however with phone interviews, you can’t see the interviewer and therefore they are a lot harder to read. How you come across to your interviewer is reliant on what you say and how you say it, so make sure your voice is clear and you speak clearly and politely. Although it’s easy to let nerves get the better of us, try not to ramble or trail off point. 

5. Wrap up the call positively.

Always end the call on a positive note. Thank the interviewer for the call and tell him or her that you are confident that you are a good fit for the job and how much you would appreciate the opportunity.

6. Follow up with a thank-you note.

Wait a couple of hours and send the interviewer a brief follow up email thanking your interviewer for their time. It only has to be brief, but make sure you confirm your interest in the role and let them know you are looking forward to hearing back from them.

Do you have any tips on how to ace telephone interviews? If so let us know in the comments below!

By Casey Fleischmann