How do I Prepare for a Phone Interview?

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  • Written By: K. Testa
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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A phone interview may be the first in a series of job interviews, as it is often used as part of a screening process. The purpose of a phone interview is usually to ask broad questions in order to narrow down the list of candidates who will be invited to attend a second interview in person. Before the scheduled call, make sure the room is quiet and turn off any secondary telephones you may have; it might also be a good idea to turn off call waiting if you have that feature. Make sure to sit in a comfortable, yet professional position while talking on the phone, as this may help your voice sound more confident. Also, before the interview, gather any information you may want to have handy, such as your resume and information about the organization interviewing you.

Phone interview etiquette includes minimizing background noise, as well as not answering other incoming calls while on the phone. You should make sure that your phone is charged and has good reception so that you do not risk losing the call or having a bad connection. In most cases, you should not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum while on the phone. It might help to find out ahead of time when the phone interview will take place, so that you are not caught off guard.


Although the hiring committee cannot see you during a phone interview, they can probably interpret your confidence level from your voice. Therefore, you should speak cordially and professionally. You may not have to reveal too much information, especially if it is only a screening interview. Your answers can be somewhat short, but you should also give some context that enhances the basic information contained in your resume.

When speaking, it might help to remember that the interviewer’s only gauge is your voice. Interviewing experts often advise job candidates to speak clearly and enunciate their words properly. Without visual cues, you may need to listen more carefully because it may be harder to speak without interrupting the interviewer. Many people also suggest smiling during a phone interview, because it can lend a more positive tone to your responses.

One advantage of a phone interview for the job candidate is that the caller cannot see him or her taking notes or referring to other written information. Prior to the call, it could help to have any necessary papers accessible on the table or desk in front of you. Some useful items could include additional details about the organization and a calendar for scheduling follow-up steps in the interviewing process.



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