Phone Interviews

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A phone interview follows many of the same principles of any other interview, but there are some key differences.


Know if you are calling the employer or if she or he is calling you. Verify the employer’s time zone if calling another U.S. city. Also, be sure to test the reception of your cell phone or, better yet, use a land line. At your side have a notepad and pen to take notes and a glass of water. At the beginning, ask who is participating in the interview. There could be multiple people on the other end of the phone.


Have a  friend or family member conduct a mock interview and record it so you can hear how you sound over the phone. You’ll be able to listen to your “ums” and “uhs” and “okays” and you can practice reducing them from your responses. Also, practice smiling when you answer questions: the interviewer will be able to tell.

Lose the distractions

Find a comfortable and quiet place for your phone interview. Avoid busy locations like cubicles, coffee houses and restaurants. Inform your friends or family ahead of time and turn off all electronic devices. Don’t eat any food or chew gum.

Don’t forget your resume

Print out a copy of your resume to refer to while answering questions. Don’t speak directly from your resume, but use it to highlight your experiences.

Prepare a cheat sheet

You should still let the interviewer drive the discussion and direction of topics, but talking points will help you emphasize the key themes you want to get across to the interviewer.

  • Prepare comments about key achievements and experiences.
  • List your competencies and innovative ideas for the new job.
  • Briefly jot questions down while being asked, then if you forget the question in the middle of your answer you have a reference point.
  • Write down questions you would like to ask the employer ahead of time.

Good things to do

  • Be well rested, mentally focused, and have a positive attitude before talking to the employer.
  • Be considerate of vocal inflection, tone, wording, overall pleasantness, and the way you answer questions.
  • Speak slowly, enunciate clearly, and listen carefully to the interviewer.
  • Get out of your chair! Try standing up and even walking around during a phone interview. People tend to speak more clearly and confidently when standing.
  • End the interview on a good note by sharing your thanks and appreciation.