Mastering the Telephone Interview

Many companies use telephone interviews as an initial screening tool in order to save their time and your time. You need to treat the telephone interview like any other face-to-face interview, since you won’t make it to a face-to-face interview if you don’t pass the telephone interview. Most telephone interviews last 20 to 30 minutes with either one person or several people interviewing you. Remember the following tips when preparing for a telephone interview:

  • Know whether you can take the call when it comes: Focus on the interviewer and stay in a comfortable location free of distractions. If you are carpooling your children to school, try to make arrangements to call the interviewer back when you are free.
  • Have the job position, your resume and your cover letter in front of you: Jot down a few notes about important points you want to make with each job or externship description, including skill sets and experience you want to emphasize. Refer to the job description and link your education, experience and skill sets to the opportunity.
  • Practice answers to common interview questions: Tell short stories that demonstrate results. The more you prepare, the less you will ramble.
  • Focus on your language and your voice: You can only use the power of your voice on a telephone call. Speak clearly, stay upbeat and enthusiastic, and use positive language. Moderate your tone and word choice to make a positive first impression. Smile!
  • Direct the interviewer to your LinkedIn account: Reference the information on your LinkedIn account in case the interviewer wants more information. It also gives the interviewer a chance to see your endorsements and recommendations.
  • Don’t hang up without asking for the next step and contact information: Make sure you have a clear idea about the time frame for the next interview. By getting the contact information of the interviewer, you have a chance to circle back to find out about the status of the next interview, and you can say thank you in writing by emailing the interviewer.

Telephone interviews can be tricky, especially since you are unable to read your interviewer’s nonverbal cues like facial expressions and body language. If you prepare well for your telephone interview, just like you would for a face-to-face interview, you will be called in for a second interview where you will have another opportunity to convince the interviewer that you’re the best person for the job. Good luck!