Brushing Up on Professional Development: How to Ace a Phone Interview


Phone interviews are interesting. Used mainly today as a way to screen candidates or pass them through a first round of interviews, conversing with a hiring manager over the phone can sometimes be nerve wracking since you’re not able to play off of their body language or facial features. But on the flip side, phone interviews can give you a huge advantage. Not only because you get to interview in your PJs, but also because it’s a little more casual and comfortable. Here are some tips on how to ace a phone interview for you to impress at your next one!

Be prepared

Treat your phone interview like a regular, in-person one. That means be prepared with the following:

  1. Research the company
  2. Prepare to answer questions you think they may ask you
  3. Prepare your own list of questions to ask them

You can find more helpful tips about these three processes in our Interview Etiquette blog!

Put yourself in a phone-interview-friendly environment

It can get a tad bit awkward if your roommate wants to know whether you want any meatloaf while your interviewer is asking you to explain your past experience. It can get doubly awkward if the call begins to cut out and both of you are only catching bits and pieces of what’s being said. So, to avoid these horrific run-ins, make sure you’re in an environment that’s phone-interview-friendly. Pick a quiet place where not even your dogs barking at the mailman can be heard.

Additionally, make sure you’re in a spot that has good reception. Static and other technical problems during a phone interview can really break up the momentum of a good vibe when you’re constantly asking “can you hear me now?” or having to call one another back. So do your part to ensure the connection is solid; even if it means doing a strange yoga pose.

On the flip side, if the interviewer is having difficulty on his/her end with reception, muted voices, or background noise, it’s your job to let them know. Address the issue courteously because the interview will go nowhere if you can’t hear their questions clearly or are having difficulty understanding their responses to you.

Listen first, then talk

Your phone interviewer will usually give you a general outline of how the conversation is going to go. In any instance that they are asking you a question, responding to something you’ve said, or giving you feedback to something, always listen first; then talk. While this allows you to obviously seem courteous in not speaking over them or trying to control the conversation, it also provides a good time for you to think about the question. With that being said, it’s good to embrace some silence. Wait a few seconds and then respond. This will ease the pace and flow of the interview and won’t make you seem too jumpy or in a rush. It will also let them see that you are thinking about the question and providing a clear answer rather than saying whatever the first thing is that comes to mind.

Smile with your voice

Remember the phrase, “smile with your eyes”? You can do the same with your voice! Be positive and optimistic with the inflections of your tone. Meet the personality type of your interviewer. Since they’re unable to see you, you should come across as friendly, forthcoming, and overall a pleasant person to speak with and be around. Make sure you are speaking clearly and enunciating your words to avoid confusion or having to backtrack your thoughts if they ask you to provide clarification.

End the conversation positively and follow-up

After you’ve gone through the run-of-the-mill interview stuff, thank the interviewer for their time and ask what the next steps are in moving forward. Will they call you back within a few days? Will they email you? Are there subsequent interviews after this one? Afterward, let them know it was great speaking with them and that you look forward to hearing back from them or someone on their team soon. When you get off the phone, send them a follow-up email that reiterates your interest in the position and captures some of the moments of your interview. You can find out how to craft a great cover letter in our blog here.

We hope you found this helpful and that you integrate our tips into your next phone interview. Good luck!

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