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Mastering the Phone Interview

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

Phone interviews can be intimidating, but here are some tips to rock that interview.

Person holding a phone

A potential employer may want to do a preliminary interview by phone. If you're prepared for the call, you can impress the interviewer.

Here are some tips:

1. Complete the Phone Interview Pre-Worksheet.

2. Turn off distractions. Take your phone into in a quiet room.

3. Have all your tools in one place:

  • Resume

  • Pen and paper to jot the interviewer(s) name(s) down immediately and to take notes during the interview

  • Company research (with relevant information highlighted)

  • Questions to ask about the company and position

  • A loosely written outline of points to make or items to cover as you talk about the position

  • A glass of water

4. Dress the part for the interview. Experts say if you're dressed in a professional manner, you'll speak that way.

5. If an employer calls and wants to do the interview right away (instead of setting up an appointment), excuse yourself politely and offer to call back in five minutes. This will give you time to make the psychological switch from whatever you are doing to your professional demeanor.

6. Stand up to talk. Your position affects the quality of your voice. If you are sitting down or relaxing, you don't project the same readiness and intensity as when you stand up.

7. Talk only when necessary. Since you lack the visual cues of body language to assess whether you've said enough, mark the end of your response with a question, such as "Would you like more details of my experience as an intern with XYZ Company?"

8. Let the employer end the interview. Then you should say "Thank you for your time," and reiterate your interest in the position.

9. Write a thank-you note to anyone who participated in the phone interview.

Person checking off checkboxes on a piece of paper

Phone Interview Pre-Work Sheet

(Do this before you interview)

Individuals conducting the interview and their job titles






Fast facts about the employer (tip: do your research in advance!)






Qualifications for the job: List qualities or skills required and be prepared to give examples of how you fit their needs







Common Interview Questions and Your Answers

1. Tell us about yourself: Summary (your elevator speech)

2. My strengths and examples of times that I have used them

3. My weaknesses and how I am working to overcome them

4. Why did you apply for this position?

5. What do you know about this company? (See Fast Facts section)

6. We are talking to some great candidates, why should we hire you?

7. What motivates you to succeed?

Questions to ask your interviews (tip: ALWAYS ask questions!)

1. What are the specific duties required of this position?

2. What are you looking for in a candidate?

3. Can you tell me about a typical day for the individual who fills this position looks like?

4. What are your goals for the department/company/organization?

5. _______________________________________________

6. _______________________________________________

Remember to send thank you notes after the interview to the individuals who were conducting it. Good Luck!

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