Phone Interviews

The telephone interview is another tool that many employers may utilize in their candidate selection process.  In most cases a telephone interview will be part of the screening process that will occur early in the employers search.   Telephone interviews may be used if an employer has a large pool of applicants and needs to narrow down the field or used to screen applicants that may be out of the employers' geographic area. If the position requires a significant amount of telephone work, the employer may use this opportunity to analyze your professionalism over the phone.

You as an applicant may see advantages to the telephone interview; convenience, you don't have to get into your interview attire, no travel, and the interview is probably going to be conducted in an environment in which you are comfortable.  The disadvantage is that you will not have the personal face to face contact with the interviewer, which puts more responsibility on you to communicate verbally in a positive and strong tone.  Your voice inflections will be what the employer will be using to judge your interest and motivation for the position.  Keeping these things in mind, here are a few suggestions to assist you in preparing for a telephone interview:

  • Have items such as your resume, job description, and company literature within easy reach.
    Review all of them prior to the call. Have a set of prepared questions you want to have answered about the position.
  • Know the details of the call: do you initiate or will the employer? What time will the call take place,? Are you dealing with different time zones? If there are any questions about the timing of the call make sure you get clarification ahead of time.
  • Provide a telephone number that will afford you a degree of privacy for the conversation. 
    If available use a land line phone rather than a cell or cordless phone to eliminate any potential low or dead battery problems.  If you have call waiting, disable it.
  • Write down the name(s) of the individuals you will be speaking with and address your questions to them by name.  You will also want this information to send follow-up thank you notes. Be sure to get correct spelling of names and titles.
  • Speak in a confident, positive, and clear tone.  If you feel yourself starting to talk too fast, take a breath and slow down.
  • Your interview will start the second you answer the phone so do so in a professional manner.
  • Determine what the next step in the search process will be, if this is not provided by the employer ask before you terminate the call. Have your calendar handy in the event the employer wants you to come in personally for a second interview.

Remember, you will probably not get a job offer as a result of a telephone interview but you may be eliminated as a candidate. Treat the phone interview as seriously as you would if you were sitting directly across from the employer in their office.  Follow up with a thank you note to the interviewer(s).