Acing a Phone Interview: Six tips to get you through to the next round

Kailyn Champlin
18 Sep 2019

Most recruiters nowadays conduct phone interviews before they meet with you in person. Initial phone interviews are typically on the shorter side. If they go well, the recruiter will call you back for a second interview, which may be either another phone interview, a video interview, or an in-person interview.

While a phone interview can be an efficient way for both the candidate and the recruiter to take the temperature of the candidate’s interest in the job, a phone interview can be an unnerving experience. It’s difficult to read a situation when you can’t see the other person’s reactions to your statements. 

With that in mind, here are six tips to help you ace your next phone interview and move on to round two!

Maintain Good Posture

While the interviewer can’t see you over the phone, you still want to maintain good posture while speaking to him or her. This is similar to the idea that if you smile, the other person will hear it in your voice. Good posture encourages you to sit up straight and helps you breathe better. A confident posture will lead to confident answers.

Use a Landline Phone

When you’re on a phone interview, you want the process to go as smoothly as possible. Taking a phone interview on a cell phone is a bad idea for several reasons. For one, you certainly don’t want to risk dropping the call. Secondly, you want the interviewer to hear every word you say – something that is not always possible with spotty cell phone signals. Using a cell phone also encourages you to get up and move around, which changes your breath and your voice – and not for the better. If you don’t have a landline – it is 2019 afterall – consider a VOIP service.

Rehearse Your Answers

You should not be improvising your answers on a phone interview. Part of the research you should do before taking the call, in addition to finding out all you can about the company and the position, is finding similar responses to questions candidates have answered in the past. Some questions are unique, but many are standard fare. For instance, you should already have a situation in mind that you can speak about with confidence when questioned on the biggest challenge you have faced in your previous experience, or something you accomplished of which you are particularly proud.

Pause Before Answering

When you’re asked a question on a phone interview, you may feel like you need to answer immediately, lest you sound unprofessional. After all, silence can seem to last longer on a phone call. However, it’s actually in the pauses you take that you allow your confidence to shine through. Telling the interviewer “that’s a great question. Let me think about that for a moment,” demonstrates to the interviewer that you’re someone who doesn’t rush into a situation without giving it serious thought first. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Take Notes

You may think you will be able to answer all of the interviewer’s questions with ease, but the moment you answer their call, fear may kick in and cause your mind to go blank. Don’t hesitate to make a “cheat sheet” of sorts. Write down anything you may need to refer to on the call, such as the questions you have about the company and the position, and the salary range you’re considering. Just be sure to keep your notes short, like bullet points. You certainly don’t want to sound like you’re reading from a script. That would make you sound more like a telemarketer than a candidate, which only works if you’re applying for a telemarketing position.

Remain Upbeat

One of the biggest mistakes candidates make in phone interviews is that they don’t sound excited or energized about the job. Unfortunately, because the interviewer can’t see your face, you have to work extra hard to infuse your voice with the enthusiasm you have for this position. However, you have to keep that delicate balance of not going so overboard as to sound phony either. Just be honest. Gesture as you would if the person was sitting right in front of you, as this helps you emote better. And don’t be afraid to laugh if the interviewer says something funny. You’re both human, after all.  

The job search can be difficult, but following these tips will make at least one part of the process a little bit easier.

Kailyn Champlin