Phone Interview Prep: What To Do Before the Call

31 Aug 2015 by


Employers are using the phone interview more and more as a step in between the resumé and the in-person interview.  It saves them time, cuts costs, and helps narrow down their list of qualified job candidates. Consequently, you will likely be doing multiple phone interviews in your job hunt.

Over-the-phone interviews are usually around 20-30 minutes long and may be with one or multiple interviewers on the other line.  Questions are usually the same as would be asked in an in-person interview, but there are a few unique things to consider in this setting.

Here are a few tips on how to best prepare yourself and get to the next step of an in-person interview:

  • Dress for success: It is a psychological fact that how we dress affects how we act.  Change out of your PJ’s, shower, and dress as you would if this were an in-person interview. Looking your best puts you in the right frame of mind to act professional and confident.
  • Be concise: Phone interviews are shorter, so you don’t have as much time for long-winded answers.  Say what you need to say but get right to the point. That being said, don’t speak too quickly!  Be articulate and enunciate clearly.
  • Make a reference sheet:  Have bullet-point answers to typical questions ready to look at to help you stay focused and remind you of key points.  Some ideas include qualities that you possess that make you fit the requirements the employer is looking for, information about the company and field, success stories about yourself that demonstrate your character and experience, etc.  Also include specific questions to ask the interviewer about the job and company.
  • Have your resumé and cover letter at the ready.
  • Set up your interview space: Sit upright at a table with reference papers ready in front of you.  Have a glass of water handy in case your mouth gets dry or you get a tickle in your throat.  Avoid distractions and loud background noise.
  • Use a reliable phone:  You don’t want your call to get lost, the sound to keep cutting out, or to have a hard time hearing the interviewer.  Do the interview on a phone you can trust, preferably use a landline phone.


If your interview is over a video call, there are a few additional things to consider:

  • If your interview is a video call, you need to not only think about your visual appearance, but also what the interviewer will see in the background.  Sit at a nice table with a neat and uncluttered backdrop; you don’t want anything to distract from your conversation.
  • Make sure your computer is charged or plugged in and your internet connection is good.  Make sure your camera is working and set it at a natural angle.  Close all other applications that could cause disruptions.


Remember to take the phone interview seriously—it is what will get you to the in-person interview.  


Hurry up and start searching for jobs now!

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