How to Prepare for Phone Interviews

woman phone interview 2.jpg


By Wim Dodson

Probably the phone interview I had the most fun with involved talking with teams in three countries. Within the first few minutes of the first interview with the Singapore group they quickly switched to speaking Chinese language to test how well I could manage in the language. (NOTE: I am not a native speaker of the language.) I was so glad the test occured over the phone, as I’d think now I’d have been too nervous in person to speak!

Nevertheless, the successive rounds of interviews - with Shanghai and with Chicago - were, actually, enjoyable. And I got the job!


Why Phone Interviews?

The phone interview is a popular way for companies to filter job candidates before the real expense of talking to people face-to-face.

Phone interviews can be fun and a great way to practice for the in-person interview. Much of the success of a phone interview comes from practicing being natural.


Practice Makes for Better Practices

As is the case with most practice, a checklist helps things along immensely.

As you await the interviewee's call, location your resume near you for assistance.

  • Visualize the flow of the phone interview to anticipate the questions you’ll receive and the answers you’ll deliver;

  • Get your nervous energy out by running around about 15 minutes before the call;

  • Bring a notebook and pen to jot notes during the interview;

  • Be sure to switch off call waiting on the phone;

  • Situate yourself somewhere you won’t be interrupted. I’ve had to interview in malls, automobiles, bedrooms, cafes, you name it. Nothing beats the quiet of your own home as long as no one is around (and leaf blowers are nowhere in the vicinity!);

  • Put Freddie your pet terrier in another room where, if she decides to cry, she can’t be heard - that goes for the children, too.

  • Ensure radios and televisions are turned off;

  • Beware of consuming or drinking anything while on an interview. Take sips of water for longer interviews.

  • Speak plainly, take your time while expressing yourself, and for goodness sakes smile!

  • Be polite, and often reference the interviewer by name;

  • Listen well and do not interrupt the interviewer while they are speaking.

  • Answer briefly and to the point.

  • Follow up your answer with a question of your own to make the encounter more a conversation than a one-way interrogation.

  • Be sure to ask about the next-steps involved in the interview process and the timeframe for decisions. Sometimes we’re too nervous to remember this important tactic.

  • Say thank you at the end of the conversation and that you enjoyed the discussion.



Fake It ‘til You Make IT

Though You do not see the individual on the other line, you have to act as if you are talking face-to-face. It’s important to be relaxed while you take the call, then (which is why running up and down stairs before the interview is so helpful). The interviewer will pick up your anxiety, otherwise, which will strangulate your brilliant answers.

So, when the phone rings, take a deep breath, lift the receiver and remind yourself you were born for the conversation that ensues.


And have fun!