How to Phone Interview

With companies looking for every way possible to save money in recruiting costs phone interviews have frequently become the first step, and sometimes the second, in the interviewing process. Telephone interviews allow recruiters the ability to gain an initial feel for your background, experience, and level of interest in their position. Perhaps most importantly phone interviews help companies quickly determine if your compensation requirements are a match with what their company has to offer.   In “Interview Like You are the Best”, you learned that 10% of what you say is considered in a phone interview.  In the case of a phone interview, 75% of what you say and 25% of what you know will get you the second interview so it is important to learn how to make the best first impression possible without the luxury of face to face interaction.

Here are a few tips to help you succeed:

  • If you are given the option schedule the interview for a time that allows you to give your full attention to the interviewer. Take the call in an environment free from distraction and background noise. Sit in a quiet room where you can speak and think clearly.
  • This interview is just like a face-to-face so treat it as such.
  • Make sure your phone is of high quality with a fully powered battery.  Avoid bluetooth headsets.
  • If you have voice mail make sure your recording is both courteous and professional. This is a tip in general if you are job searching but is most important for telephone interviews. In the event your miss the interviewers call your message will appropriately relay your apologies.
  • Do not answer incoming calls during your phone interview.  It does not make you seem more important to the interviewer; rather, it makes it seem as if you have more important things to do than speak to a potential employer.
  • If you have a bad connection and/or have difficulty hearing the other person, offer to call them back.
  • Stand up while you’re interviewing.  Standing up allows you to speak clearly, improve your responses, and gives you more confidence.
  • Be fully prepared with your notes regarding topics like the company overview, position description and its responsibilities. Most importantly know your resume and be prepared to speak to your personal accomplishments, job history, experience, etc.
  • Dress like you would for a face-to-face interview.


  • A conservative suit in dark blue or dark gray with a long-sleeved white shirt. The tie should be conservative, but stylish. Dark socks (over-the-calf) with dark, freshly shined shoes.
  • Jewelry should be limited to no more than a wristwatch and wedding ring.
  • If you have locs, it should be neatly tied back
  • Fingernails should be clean and trimmed.
  • Facial hair should be cleanly shaved.
  • Hands and face should be moisturized


  • A business suit in a subdued color is best for first interviews. Earth tones work best. Dress in today’s styles, but keep the hemline close to knee-length and keep blouses modest.
  • Hosiery should be worn at all times, regardless of weather conditions. Shoe heel height should be moderate and comfortable – shoes should be freshly polished.
  • A conservative dress or suit is fine for additional interviews.
  • Jewelry should be minimal and in good taste.
  • Nails should be well manicured and polished in clear, light, conservative colors. If long nails are a part of a personal fashion statement, avoid bright colors and glittered accents for interviewing.
  • Hairstyles will vary with each individual. Long hair neatly pulled back; short hair kept neat.
  • Makeup should be tastefully and lightly applied.

At the end of your phone interview, don’t be afraid to ask for the face-to-face interview. Have your calendar at hand so you may suggest dates that would be convenient. Again, the phone interview is very serious and should be considered as serious as a face-to-face.  Your resume has gotten the interviewer’s attention and now it’s your job to say the right things to get the second interview. Just like any other interview this is a great opportunity to find out more about the company and position so don’t be afraid to ask questions

the author

Adrian T. Marable has motivated and inspired many men and women to lean forward in their personal and career lives. He has a proven track record of creating the path of success for the "average Joe" which includes career, personal, educational, and spiritual satisfaction. Adrian's mission in life is to promote a successful mindset which leaves the individual with the mental tools to be successful.