8 Great Tips On How to Handle the Phone Interview

Phone interviews have some advantages. No schlepping across town trying to find the building, no fruitless searching for a parking space, ….heck, you don’t even have to worry about what to wear. You can wear your bunny slippers if you like.

But, as good as all of that is, if you don’t treat the phone interview as important, you won’t be invited back for a personal interview down the line.

Here are eight things you need to know on how to handle the phone interview before you answer the call…


1. Disable your phone from disruptions such as call waiting

It’s true, only you will hear the beep, not the interviewer, but that little sound might be enough to make you lose focus on your answer. You’ll probably be nervous enough already with out having to deal with unwanted distractions.

And speaking of distractions…

2. Get rid of pets, children, roommates and spouses

Not permanently, of course. Just for the duration of the phone call. It’s hard to focus when you are constantly signaling people to be quiet. Your baby’s cooing may be music to your ears, but it’s annoying to someone on the other end. And you’d be surprised how amplified a dog’s bark gets through the mouthpiece of a phone.

If you’re on the run and can’t call from home, do your best to find a quiet spot insulated from traffic noise and background distractions.

3. Be as prepared for a phone interview as you are for an in person one

That means have a list of questions handy, and be prepared to answer any questions thrown your way. Also, have your resume printed out in front of you so you don’t have to struggle to remember dates, etc. off the top of your head.


4. Have a pad of paper and pen handy

You’ll want to jot down notes and information along the way. A good tip is to check to make sure your pen works before you pick up the phone! Better yet, have a small arsenal of pens and pencils nearby so as to not have to fumble for one when needed.

5. Keep a glass of water nearby

Nothing is more uncomfortable than a dry mouth when you are nervous. A cough drop or mint might work too, as long as you are sure not to crunch them while speaking on the phone. Remember how a dog’s bark is amplified? Well the same thing holds true if you chew something in the ear of the interviewer.


6. Use a land line if possible

Dropped calls would not only be annoying, they could potentially be a deal breaker. The hiring manager has only so much time to spend with you and it’s unlikely he wants to spend it redialing your number a few times. And cell service is not always perfect. You don’t want to be asking, Can you hear me now? throughout your call.

So if you don’t have a landline and must rely on your cell, make sure you’re not in a area with spotty service. Place a call to a friend first and test the reception.

7. Enunciate and Smile

Put a mirror in front of you if you think you’ll forget to smile. It shows in your voice when you are smiling; you sound more positive and upbeat. And speak clearly, even if it means slowing down a bit. Enunciation is even more important over the phone than it is in person, because without clear enunciation, you can come across as a person who mumbles.


8.  Don’t delay on the follow up thank you

For an in person interview you’ve got two days to get a thank out to the hiring manager. With a phone interview, you’ve got two hours. Don’t make the mistake of blowing off this important step because think the phone interview somehow ranks lower on the importance scale. It doesn’t. It’s the first step to the face-to-face interview. So do it right. Don’t do the thank you with another  phone call. Send an email just like you would do after an in person interview. Remember, this step is just as important and more time sensitive.

There you have it. With a little preparation and organization, you’ll be ready to handle the first step towards a potential new job. Good luck!