How to Master the Phone Interview


The telephone interview is often the first step in the candidate selection process, and it is an essential one. It is used by recruiters as a way to screen applicants for a position and ultimately to narrow the talent pool. This is the first chance for you to make a good personal impression, something which cannot be rivaled in importance. The phone interview is a stepping stone to the face to face interview and is therefore vital when it comes to landing the job. But how do you pull off a great phone interview?

Well, a lot of the tips for perfecting your interview technique are the same as for perfecting your phone interview technique. As always preparation is key, but there are several important differences. Given that you’ll probably be at home for this interview you can actually have your preparation and notes with you. Note down the important points that you want to get covered, as well as some answers to potential questions, some example questions that you could ask your interviewer and information about the company. However, make sure not to sound like you are reading information off a sheet. You should also keep your CV close by so that you can refer to it without hesitation when questioned about your employment history, education or any other information you have included. Here are a few other key points to remember:

  • Have a pen and paper ready so you can note down information the interviewer gives you
  • Prepare the room – get rid of distractions (e.g. kids, pets etc) and prepare the layout of your “cheat sheets” so you can easily read them
  • If you are using a landline make sure to turn your mobile phone off. If you are on your mobile then make sure to turn call waiting off to make sure you are not interrupted

So now you’ve prepared, but what can you do during the interview to make sure you’re at your best? Well, in addition to the normal things you would do in an interview e.g. be positive, market yourself etc there are a few things that you should remember:

  • Speak slowly and enunciate – often when people are nervous they speak more quickly, but it’s crucial that you make a conscious effort to make yourself understood. Perhaps have a glass of water with you to make sure you take breaks and stop yourself getting a dry mouth
  • Don’t interrupt the interviewer. You don’t want to appear rude so make sure to take a second before answering then you will know they have definitely finished talking. However, don’t take too long or they might think you’ve gone!
  • Use the interviewer’s title (Mr./Mrs.) until requested otherwise
  • Don’t smoke, eat, chew gum etc at any time during the interview
  • Smile – even though the interviewer cannot see you, it will help you to come across as a positive person because it changes your tone of voice

Now you’ve come to the end of the interview. As it is normal to enquire about future contact in a face to face interview you should also enquire about setting up a meeting with your interviewer. After all, that is the goal of the phone interview!

If you take all that into account then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get through to the next stage of the process.

So good luck!


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