Career Services

Tips for Telephone Interviews

Some employers will elect to conduct a telephone interview to screen candidates and determine whom to invite to a site interview. There are many similarities between telephone interviews and face-to-face interviews, but there are some differences, too. Someone involved in job search will need to be prepared for both types of interviews.

Preparing for the telephone interviews

  • Prepare for a telephone interview as you would for a face-to-face interview—anticipate questions, practice some answers, research the company, prepare your questions, and know the key messages you want to communicate.
  • Control the environment by arranging for quiet place and time for the interview, charging your telephone, turning call waiting off, and letting roommates or family members know you will need privacy for the interview.
  • Have helpful materials readily accessible to the site you have chosen for the phone interview. Recommended materials include your resume, information you have gathered about the company and/or job, a list of questions to ask the potential employer, short lists of key information and talking points (strengths, accomplishments, supporting “stories”), a pen and paper for note taking, a glass or bottle of water
  • Remind yourself of the name of the person(s) you are going to be talking with during the interview; call interviewers by formal name unless they ask you to use their first names.
  • Be sure your phone answering message is appropriate for job search.

Interviewing

  • Manage your vocals. Speak slowly, enunciate clearly, project your voice (consider standing up while speaking to help with the latter), and smile—oddly enough, it has been documented that this will positively impact the tone of one’s voice.
  • Communicate enthusiasm. Make a conscious effort to sound upbeat and enthusiastic. State that you are excited about the possibility of working for the organization.
  • Don’t interrupt the interviewer.
  • Listen carefully. Be sure you understand the questions. Listen for vocal tone and other nonverbal cues.
  • Take your time. It’s okay to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts.
  • Support your statements with examples. Generally you will give shorter answers in a telephone interview than you probably would in fact-to-face interview, but you still need to support answers.
  • Jot down notes when appropriate
  • Ask questions if the interviewer asks if you have questions.
  • Thank the person for the opportunity to do the phone interview.
  • Do not hang up until the interviewer has hung up.

Following-up

  • Review and add to your notes. These notes will help you prepare for a second interview.
  • Send a thank you note to the interviewer within 24 hours.
  • Complete any follow-up tasks promptly. If the interviewer requested more information, send it ASAP. If you indicated you would be checking on something, do it now.