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Job Seeker Series: How to Nail a Phone Interview

Phone Interview
Have a phone interview coming up? We're here to help you become a phone interview champ!

There are three main types of interviews that most people engage in: in-person, virtual, and phone interviews, each with their own unique set of pros and cons. While they can be nerve-wracking to manage, our Job-Seeker Blog Series is here to help you not only identify how to make the most of each type of interview but how to become an interview pro!

First on the docket is the phone interview, which is oftentimes the first step in the hiring process. In fact, phone interviews can oftentimes be scheduled, but they can also happen by surprise when the recruiter calls you for the first time. Whatever the case may be, check out our 8 tips below for how to succeed during a phone interview!

1. Do your research 

You applied to the company, so you should know about them and what they do, even if the phone interview takes you by surprise. If you can, pull up their website on your computer while you’re on the phone, just so you can contextualize the questions the recruiter is asking you. You should also know which job you applied for and what the major responsibilities of the position look like.

2. Consider your voice and tone

The recruiter can only judge you based on your resume and the way you sound over the phone, so remember to stay friendly, confident, and inviting. If you sound like you’ve had a bad day, the employer will likely hear that and may not want to move forward with the hiring process. If you sound positive and cheerful, the recruiter may hear that and assume that you are a positive person in the workplace as well. Since they can’t see your facial expressions or body language, use your tone and voice to your advantage.

3. Get to a quiet area 

If you live in a busy home with kids and pets, consider getting to a quiet room with no distractions. If you happen to be in the car, pull over to a safe parking lot where you can step out if you need to. The main point here is that your focus should be primarily on the interview, not on lights, other drivers, and pets. If the phone call comes as a surprise, consider asking the recruiter if you can call them back when you are in a quieter spot, or let the recruiter leave a message that you can return when things are calmer.

4. Take notes 

The employer might ask you questions or want you to follow up on things. They may give you follow-up instructions, or they may introduce themselves. Whatever the case may be, make sure you take thorough notes about who they are, what they’re looking for, and what they need from you next. There is nothing worse than getting off a phone call and forgetting everything they asked of you!

5. Bring everything up on your laptop or computer 

If you’re at home, bring up your application, the job description, your resume, and your portfolio. That way, if the recruiter asks you specific questions about your resume, you can easily answer them. If they refer to a bullet point on the job description, you have it up in front of you. The recruiter likely has these documents in front of them as well, so follow their lead, and be prepared with all your documentation.

6. Ask questions 

Asking questions shows that you are interested and want to learn more about the position, and it gives you an opportunity to open a dialogue between you and the recruiter that focuses more on what the organization is looking for. Consider having 1-3 questions ready. Asking no questions can lead to an abrupt end to the interview, while asking too many can seem cumbersome to the recruiter.

7. Say thank you 

Say thank you on the phone, and follow up with a thank you note or email. They saw something in your resume that stood out to them, and they took time out of their day to meet with you, so thank them! (See How to Write Thank-You Emails After Interviews from Robert Half for tips to make your thank you email stand out.)

8. Practice, practice, practice

It feels silly, but one of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to practice, whether you are alone or with friends and family. Consider questions recruiters may ask you, and answer those questions out loud (not just in your head!). Practicing out loud helps you decide on which stories you want to tell, which skills you want to highlight, and gives you the muscle memory you need to replicate the speeches you rehearsed. You shouldn’t sound scripted, but you should sound like you prepared for the phone screening.


Nailed the phone screening and preparing for your next interview? Check out our next article in our Job-Seeker Series: How to Nail a Virtual Interview!

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