Tips for Acing Your Phone Interview

persuasive communicator

This Ms Career Girl classic was originally published in 2012.  Still full of great tips, check it out!

In today’s competitive job market, it’s important to make the best of every opportunity. Though preparing for a phone interview may not be as involved as preparing for an in-person meeting, you should still do what you can to ensure that the interview goes smoothly. Below are some tips you can use to improve your chances of moving from the phone interview to the office chair.

Understand the Purpose

Before you can ace the phone interview, you need to understand why it exists. Employers use phone interviews to determine which candidates will qualify for the next step in the application process: the in-person interview. Conference calls and video chats are also becoming a popular method of screening candidates. If you don’t impress the employer during the phone interview, don’t expect a second chance. In most cases, employers are looking for communication skills and enthusiasm, so make sure that you exhibit both.


Though it may seem silly at first, one of the best ways to prepare for a phone interview is to practice. Think about the type of questions the potential employer will ask, and craft a response to each one. Develop several questions that you can ask the interviewer in order to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position. Feel free to create a “cheat sheet” to use during the interview, but don’t use it as anything more than a guide. If you read directly from the paper, the interviewer will notice.

Find a Quiet Place

Even though you may be participating in a telephone interview from your home, you still need to behave as a professional. Take the call in a room with no distractions or noise. If you have children or pets, make sure they won’t interrupt you while you are on the phone.

Pay Attention to Your Voice

Because a telephone interviewer can’t see your facial expression or gestures, he will pay attention to your speech all the more. Don’t chew gum or eat anything during the interview, and speak with confidence to ensure that the interviewer can understand you. If you have a shaky or quiet voice, stand up during the interview to add strength to your voice. It also helps to smile when you are speaking. Even though the interviewer can’t see you, the smile will come through in your tone.

Be an Active Listener

Telephone interviewers can’t make eye contact with you or see whether you are paying attention when they talk. Ensure your interviewer that you are listening carefully by repeating portions of his questions back in your answers. Though you should never talk over an interviewer, don’t stay too silent either. If you need time to think about something or take a note, let the interviewer know what you’re doing. Dead air with no explanation won’t impress a potential employer.

Employers today are often flooded with applicants, and the phone interview is becoming a much more common method of sorting through them. By staying focused and following these tips, you can improve your interview performance and increase the likelihood of a follow-up meeting.

 Would you add anything to this list? How do you approach phone interviews?

Melissa Crossman

Melissa Crossman is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area with her two dogs. She writes extensively about education, professional and personal development, and the slings and arrows of the job hunt.

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