Phone Interview Tips: Here’s How To Be Prepared In Case You Get A Call!

by Lynnette


Job candidates are often surprised when they the get the call for a phone interview. You shouldn’t be.


Phone interviews are a popular pre-screening method that many employers use these days.

The following phone interview tips & tricks will ensure that you won’t be caught off-guard when they call you!


Why Employers Do Phone Interviews

Phone interviews save employers a significant amount of time and expense when searching for quality employees.

To reduce the number of job applicants who need to be brought in for a face-to-face interview, many companies pre-screen with a simple phone interview first.

So, any time you are in an active job search, it’s important to be prepared for that phone interview!

By preparing ahead of time, you can avoid the panic, as well as those embarrassing um’s and uh’s when you’re asked unexpected questions.

Here’s what you need to know…


How To Prepare For A Phone Interview

Preparing for a phone interview is much like preparing for a face-to-face interview.

The best part: you’re allowed to use notes!

Frequently asked questions for phone interviews can be found online. Here are some examples:

You should review several separate lists of questions. Then jot down brief, written answers to them all.

Keep this list of answers with a copy of your resume near the phone at all times.

At home, you can tape this list to the wall. When you’re away from home, keep it within reach — in your pocket or purse — so you’ll be ready if the call comes in on your cell phone.

Also, make sure that you have a notepad and pen handy, so you can take notes during the interview.

When the phone call is over, summarize your thoughts about this company on that same notepad. And jot down some questions that you might like to ask them should they call you in for a face-to-face interview.


Phone Interview Questions You Can Definitely Expect

It’s true that interviewers enjoy coming up with their own unique questions at times. However, most companies ask the same questions in the phone interview that are designed to screen out candidates they definitely don’t want to interview in person.

You should be prepared to answer questions about your old job, your background, the job you are applying for, and about yourself personally.

Some commonly asked questions that you definitely want to have answers for include:

  • What is your greatest strength / weakness?
  • Describe the pace at which you work.
  • How do you handle stress or pressure?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What interests you about this job?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What are your salary expectations?

Don’t be caught off guard by any of these questions.

My best tip: practice your answers ahead of time, so they don’t sound canned over the phone.

For example, many people are intimidated by the salary question. However, if you do a little research into salary ranges for this type of job in your area, then you’ll be prepared for that one!

Your answer to how much you would like to be paid should take into account your own personal experience as it relates to that salary range. Don’t worry that you may not be invited for a face-to-face interview because you’ve asked too much. Most employers are simply looking for your familiarity with the position and all that it entails — including the salary range.

They’ll be frank with you about what they’re willing to pay once you get to a higher stage in the interview process.


What You Should Do (And Not Do) During A Phone Interview

To most people, phone interviews sound much easier than personal interviews. After all, you won’t have to face a menacing manager, traffic can’t make you late, and you can do it in your robe and pajamas.

But the truth is it’s easier to blow a phone interview than a face-to-face interview! If this happens, you won’t even be invited in for a chance to redeem yourself.

Handling yourself in a professional manner and being prepared to answer the interviewer’s questions can be the deciding factors in whether you are invited for a face-to-face interview or not.

Here are a few important phone interview tips that will increase your odds of success:

  • Minimize distractions by interviewing in a quiet room.
  • Make sure that there’s some separation between you and the pets, the kids, the TV, and other distractions — shut the door if you can.
  • Even though it’s a phone interview and they cannot see you, never eat, smoke, or chew gum during the interview.
  • On the other hand, it is a good idea to keep a bottle of water close by in case your mouth gets dry during the phone conversation.
  • Act as though the interviewer can see you! Be sure to smile, and don’t fidget. While this may sound absurd, the fact is your attitude and body language greatly affect your image to the listener on the other end of the phone. Smiling alters the tone of your voice in a positive way.
  • Have a laptop nearby with Internet access if possible — so you can look at the company’s website and/or see examples of what the interviewer is telling you.
  • Never try to multitask during a phone interview – give the interview every ounce of your attention.
  • Have your resume and cover letter nearby.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a few seconds to gather your thoughts before answering tough questions. And remember to speak slowly and clearly.
  • Use the mute button wisely.



Questions You Should Ask During The Phone Interview

Most interviewers will ask if you have any questions about the company or the job position. This is another question you should be prepared to answer.

Simply answering “No” shows you either haven’t done your research about the company, or you simply don’t care.

These are some good questions to write down ahead of time, so you can ask them in the phone interview:

  • What are the most important qualities you are seeking in the person who will fill this position?
  • Can you describe the most challenging part of this job?
  • What is the typical work week like? Does this position require overtime or travel?
  • If the job is offered to me, how soon could I start?
  • Would you like a list of references?
  • When can I expect to hear from you?
  • Are there any other questions I can answer for you?

Today’s job market is extremely competitive, so it’s very important that you sound well spoken and intelligent during your interview.

Be sure to take notes while the interviewer is speaking. That way, you’ll avoid asking questions they have already answered!

Again, don’t be afraid to take a moment to compose your thoughts. That is much better than getting a deer-in-the-headlights look (which can, indeed, be sensed over the phone!) and answering, “Uh, no, I can’t think of any” when asked if you have any questions.


Following Up After A Phone Interview

You may be wondering if following-up after the phone interview will make you seem like a pest.

Actually, an after-interview follow up shows that you are thoughtful and considerate — and definitely interested in the position!

It will bring you back to the front of the interviewer’s thoughts, and hopefully put you on the list of people to call back for personal interviews.

So, before you hang up during the phone interview, be sure to ask for the interviewer’s e-mail address.

Sending an e-mail thank you note is a non-intrusive way to reaffirm your interest in the position, while telling the interviewer you appreciate their time. The e-mail you send should be short, polite, and to the point.


To Sum It All Up…

Being prepared for a phone interview is one of the most important things you can do during your job search.

The trick is to practice, practice, practice.

You should:

  • Make a list of common questions and your own thoughtful answers to each of them.
  • Keep this list near your phone at all times.
  • Practice with a friend or family member. Have them ask the questions for you to answer during a recorded session. It’s a great way to hear how your voice sounds and see how comfortable you are with your own answers.
  • Finally, work on sounding more confident and eliminating the inevitable “uh-huh’s,” “ums,” and “okays.”

The bottom line: practicing for a phone interview helps you prepare for a face-to-face interview as well. By utilizing all of these tips, you’ll be ready for any interview that comes your way!


More Phone Interview Tips & Tricks