Telephone Interview Tips

No other information-gathering technique allows for as quick a turnaround time as the telephone interview. Generally speaking, rules for face-to-face interviews apply to telephone interviews.

The following are specific suggestions for telephone interviews:

  • Arrange a scheduled time for the interview if possible. No matter what the situation, take time to compose yourself before you talk. Be time-conscious and plan the exchange to make the best use of the time allotted.
  • Keep job search materials (paper or pen, accomplishment statements, resume, references, etc.) in an easily accessible place. A calculator and calendar might also be helpful.
  • Practice speaking to groups of people on speaker phones to become accustomed to the sound and the lag time. Communicating effectively with a person or group on the phone requires acknowledging each one by name instead of with eye contact.
  • Practice distinguishing voice inflections on conference calls. Because it is difficult to hear sentence beginnings and endings, your chances of interrupting someone increase. Silence is an effective tool under these circumstances.
  • Remove distractions and conduct the interview in a place where you feel comfortable and confident.
  • When preparing for a scheduled telephone interview, write out your qualifications for the position and arrange them in front of you for easy access during the interview.
  • In addition to concentrating on your verbal and nonverbal messages, focus on the employer’s verbal and nonverbal messages. Effective listening skills are very apparent on the phone.
  • At the close of the telephone conversation try to get the interviewer to specify a face-to-face interview time “When could you see me?” or, “I could come in tomorrow at 10am or 2pm; what time would be more convenient?” Forcing the employer to look at a calendar and make a choice might motivate him or her to give you an appointment.

Be sure you know your interviewer’s name and title and how to spell it (you’ll need it for the thank you note).

  • Disappointment and surprise are more apparent on the phone because conflicting nonverbal cues and nuances are limited. Be aware of your emotions and project confidence.


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