How to Ace the Phone Interview


Looking for proven ways to ace the notorious phone interview? Commit these five steps to memory and make the right impression on any recruiter.

Phone interviews can be nerve-wracking and uniquely challenging, but they serve the valuable function of helping recruiters narrow the job candidate pool to only the most qualified individuals. Your goal is to not only make it past this initial screening but to do so with confidence and flair. You want to make a lasting impression on the recruiter and maximize your chances of being invited to interview in person, which will allow you to further showcase your skills and qualifications.

But first, the phone interview. Accomplishing a standout phone interview is possible with a little time and effort. Here are five simple steps to help you shine during your interview and move a little bit closer to your final goal of getting the job you want.

Build My Resume1. Do your research. By the time the recruiter calls, you should be very familiar with what the company does and how it operates. You should also understand the responsibilities and qualifications for the specific job. The more you know about the company and the people who run it, the easier it will be to ask pertinent, informed questions. Turn to trusted resources like LinkedIn and Glassdoor to learn more about the professional environment and the backgrounds of the company’s department managers and company executives.

Researching the company’s needs will help you emphasize how you can meet those needs and tailor your responses to questions. Keep in mind that you are not the only candidate for the job, so it is important to convince the recruiter that you are a more qualified candidate than the other applicants.

2. Gather your paperwork. Before your interview begins, gather up all paperwork that will assist you during the phone call. This includes your cover letter, resume, a list of references and a blank notebook or piece of paper for notes. If the recruiter did not give you an exact time for the interview, keep the paperwork nearby at all times. Bring the paperwork with you in your bag or keep it in your car so you can get to it easily if the recruiter calls while you are out and about.

3. Practice, practice, practice! Practicing mock phone interviews with someone you trust is one of the best ways to ace the real call when it comes through. Rather than practicing face to face with someone else, have that person call you so you can get an accurate feel for how an interview over the phone is really done. During the mock interviews, ask for feedback regarding your tone of voice and talking speed, and make sure there is no distracting background noise in your home. You should also invite your mock interviewer to come up with a few unexpected questions to test how well you handle the unexpected during phone screens.

4. Ask for the full name and phone number of the recruiter. When the interviewer calls, ask for his or her full name and contact information as well. Write the information down on a piece of paper so that you know how to contact the appropriate person if any of the following should occur:

  • •The call is disconnected
  • •You want to follow up with the interviewer after your call
  • •To send a thank-you note

5. Prepare answers to common questions. Acing the recruiter call will be practically impossible if you have not taken the time to prepare answers to common questions. Although there is no way to know exactly what the recruiter will choose to ask, you should at least prepare thoughtful responses to the following queries:

  • •What is your biggest weakness?
  • •What is your greatest strength?
  • •What qualifies you to perform the responsibilities of this job?
  • •Tell me about a time when you helped solve a problem between yourself and a coworker or client.
  • •What are your long-term goals?
  • •Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
  • •Why did you select your university or degree?
  • •What is your most significant accomplishment?
  • •Do you work well with others?
  • •How would you describe yourself?
  • •Why do you think you would be a good fit for this job?
  • •What made you decide to apply for this job?
  • •How do you deal with pressure and stress?
  • •What do you know about this company?
  • •Are you willing to travel or relocate?

While the list of possible questions you could be asked is practically endless, preparing answers to the above inquiries will give you a good start and will help you shine during your interview.