How to prepare for a phone interview

Employers usually receive a large number of applications. Because many of the candidates can look very similar on paper, recruiters and hiring managers often revert to phone interviews for preliminary screening. This process helps to narrow down the pool of talent prior to bringing in potential candidates for face-to-face interviews.

Unlike a traditional face-to-face interview, you can’t make eye contact and observe the interviewer's body language which is why it can be more challenging to show your interpersonal skills.

Here are five phone interview tips for making your phone interview a success.

Use the landline

If you have access to a landline, you would be wise to use it for the phone interview. Mobile drop outs and black holes are phone interview killers. Not only is it the best connection option available, it will show commitment and effort.

Eliminate distractions

Turn off the TV, sit down and have all your phone interview preparation material handy. You need to concentrate a little more during a phone interview so make sure you create or are in a quiet environment.

Make a list of questions

Keep your notes close and put some thought into making a list of pre-written questions. Jot notes down during the phone interview and ask your questions clearly.

Speak clearly

To be sure the interviewer can hear you, ensure you speak directly into the phone or headset. Let the interviewer finish speaking before responding to his/her questions. Be sure to smile while giving your answers; even if the interviewer cannot see you, the tone in your voice will come across as energetic and positive.

Use proper etiquette

After the phone interview it’s a good idea to send the interviewer a thank you note. This would be a good opportunity to also reiterate your key points and show your interest in the role.

Three commonly-asked phone interview questions

Before your interview, it’s a good idea to rehearse some phone interview questions and answers, so you can feel more confident in your delivery.

1. Tell me a little about yourself.

Sometimes, the objective of a phone interview is to convince the interviewer that meeting you in person will be a good use of their time. In responding to this question, it’s important not to waffle. Keep your answer brief and highlight aspects of your career that are relevant to the specific role at hand and demonstrate the skills that the interviewer is looking for.

2. What interests you most about this job?

If you’re doing the phone interview because you have to relocate or because there is a lot of travel involved, your first answer should indicate that the opportunity to travel excites you. The interviewer will want to understand why you aren’t looking for work in your local area, and you need to be prepared to show enthusiasm for travelling further afield. If the phone interview is a preliminary screener, your answer should focus on the opportunities to demonstrate particular skills that this role requires (which you will have gleaned from the job description or advertisement).

3. Are you willing to relocate for this role?

Sometimes, if you are doing a phone interview, it’s because the office is in a location that isn’t convenient for you to get to. It’s important to carefully consider - prior to the interview - if moving is right for you personally and professionally. Be honest in your response.
The phone interview is basically a culling process designed to reduce the pool of talent who ultimately will move onto the face-to-face interviews. If you want to get to the next phase of the interview process, discover more interview advice that will put you in the upper percentage of potential candidates.

Take a look at our job interview tips hub for more interview preparation tips and advice.