11 Tips for a Successful Phone Interview


Expecting a call from a recruiter? Study and apply these 11 phone interview tips and field the phone screening call with confidence.

Many employers are turning to phone screenings in lieu of first interviews to help them significantly narrow their applicant pool before they begin in-person interviews. Learning a few key phone interview tips can help you master this common recruiter call. Depending on the person conducting the interview, this initial screening call could range from a few minutes to an hour. Some hiring managers use the recruiting call to ask challenging, detailed questions about job history and experience, while others prefer to make the initial screening short by asking only basic details about qualifications and skills.

Although no two phone interviews are exactly alike, there are some ways to prepare. Standing out from other candidates is crucial if you want to be invited for a face-to-face interview. Here are 11 telephone interview tips that will help you master your upcoming recruiting call and make an unforgettable impression.

Build My Resume1. Leave a 30-minute window for the call to come in. In a perfect world, your call will come in on time but that doesn’t always happen. It’s always a good idea to leave yourself extra time to complete the call should your recruiter be running late. You should also ensure that your phone is always charged so that you have plenty of time to talk when the call comes through.

2. Prepare to give the recruiter the best days and times to reach you. Most recruiters schedule the call in advance. Be prepared to give them the best days and times to reach you if they ask when they should call back.

3. Ensure that your voicemail message is professional and clearly identifies who you are. Your message should contain your name and phone number so that interviewers know they have reached the right person in the event that you miss their call.

4. If you miss the initial call, return the call immediately. If you miss any hiring managers’ calls, return the call as soon as you can. Even if you are only able to return their call after regular business hours, it is best to call and leave a message rather than wait until the next day.

5. Go somewhere quiet and with good cell service. When receiving or returning an interviewer’s phone call, make sure you are somewhere that is quiet and comfortable. It should be free of background noise and have good cell service so that your call isn’t dropped mid-interview.

6. Have a pen and paper ready. Be prepared to take notes during your call by keeping a pad of paper and a writing utensil near your telephone. If you are planning to leave your house, carry these items with you in your bag or keep them in your car so that they will be available when you need them.

7. Keep a copy of your resume by your phone at all times. Have a copy of your resume in front of you when you are expecting a telephone interview. It’s important to be able to reference this document as needed during the screening process to refresh your memory of the dates and responsibilities of your last jobs.

8. Ensure that you can clearly hear the interviewer. If you are having trouble hearing the interviewer, let them know as soon as possible. It is better to get the source of the problem figured out right away than to take the chance of misunderstanding the hiring manager during the interview. If you have hearing loss, find out if the interviewer can conduct the interview through a relay service or TTY. If not, you may need to arrange a different type of interview, such as an online chat or in-person meeting with a translator.

9. Speak slowly and clearly. Remember that the hiring manager cannot see your mouth when conducting a phone interview with you, so it is imperative that you speak slowly and clearly.

10. Do not interrupt the interviewer. Telephone interviews can be awkward, in part because you can’t see the interviewer in order to read their body language and cues. Resist the urge to chatter through every lull in the conversation, and make sure you never interrupt the interviewer while he or she is speaking.

11. Send a thank-you note to the interviewer. Don’t forget to send a brief and sincere thank-you note to the person who took the time to interview you.