Tips For A Successful Phone Interview

This fall, the Bay Area reached an economic milestone, housing a record 4 million jobs and boasting the most vigorous hiring month in several years. While this feat is big news for the economy, it is daunting for candidates competing within the nation’s oft-named most favorable job market. Due to the large number of applications that employers receive for any given position, it’s no wonder that phone interviews are invariably used to narrow down the qualified resume pool.

While many candidates assume that the phone interview is the ‘easy’ part, it is actually the most critical opportunity available to literally get your foot in the door. Those whom don’t make a distinctive impression will not get the imperative invite for an in-person interview. Here are 5 steps to make your voice, and the talent behind it, truly stand out:

#1: Recognize that a phone interview may be scheduled or unscheduled.

In many cases, candidates receive an email setting up the phone interview date and time, which gives advance notice and time to organize thoughts and key phrases. However, there are times when you receive a call on the spot and are caught off-guard. Have a one-liner ready which thanks the caller for their outreach but lets them know you are not at your desk; ask what time works best for them for you to return the call. Unscheduled phone interviews maximize stress and minimize your potential to prevail.

#2: Take advantage of being able to have a cheat sheet.

You know those classes you loved in college because you could have a note card to look at during mid-terms?! Yep… this is that chance all over again! Not only can you do your homework with regards to who is interviewing you, what the company’s mission is and how your qualifications match the job description, you can have it all in front of you during the call. This is the single biggest benefit of a phone interview when compared with a face-to-face interview.

#3: Eliminate distractions.

While you could conduct the interview in your sweats surrounded by dirty laundry and hiding from the kids – set yourself up for success by creating a setting of success. Get dressed, sit at a desk and send the kids (and maybe even the dogs) to a neighbor. The last thing you want is to spend this valuable opportunity apologizing for the dryer buzzing or the kids fighting in the background. Being too comfortable in your comfort zone can create chaos.

#4: Listen, talk, then listen again.

Be sure to let the interviewer speak first and in full; wait for a prompt or pause that clearly defines your turn. After answering each question, prepare 1-3 questions of your own which not only showcase your knowledge-base and position relevancy, but exude your enthusiasm! Then listen to how the interviewer ends the conversation and note what next steps are indicated.

#5: Don’t ask what you really want to know.

It’s natural to wonder about the position’s exact starting salary and range of benefits at this point, but it’s much more widely accepted to wait with bated breath. Asking too much too soon could send the message that your priority is what you will get out of this job – not what you can bring to the table. It’s far better to be patient than be misunderstood.

Now that you’ve successfully completed that call… what’s next?! Be sure to send a thank you email (short enough for a screen shot) no more than 24 hours after the interview, but no less than 2 hours after. An instant email thank you eliminates the chance to be remembered, so allow for a pause but don’t wait so long that your gratitude appears to be an afterthought.


Resources Used:


Inc. Magazine:


San Jose Mercury News: