Phone Interview Guide
Basics of a Phone Interview
The phone interview is a company's first step to screen candidates for a position. In the phone interview, the employer will see if you meet the basic qualifications, compare your experiences with your resume, explain the position to you, and gauge your understanding of the company. There will also be time for you to ask questions about the company.
Most phone interviews are scheduled in advance. If the interviewer calls at an unexpected time, you may ask to schedule the interview for a later time. If you receive an unexpected call it is suggested that you allow the call to go to voicemail, if not in a position to have a professional conversation. This is better than conducting an unprepared, impromptu interview.
Generally, phone interviews last between 15 and 45 minutes. In this time, employers are listening for examples of professionalism, enthusiasm for the position, knowledge of the field, good communication skills, thoughtful and concise questions, and more in-depth information about you. NEVER put an interviewer on hold!
Benefits of the Phone Interview
For the employer, a phone interview is a cost-effective way to get to know a candidate. It is also an opportunity to "weed out" candidates who are not qualified for the position.
For a candidate, it is a chance to learn about a company without having to travel to its location. A phone interview also gives a candidate time to focus on the experiences and qualifications they have listed on their resume.
Barriers of the Phone Interview
It can be difficult to communicate effectively in a phone interview. Typically, the total impact of a message breaks down to:
- 7% verbal message (words)
- 38% vocal (pitch, tone, volume, etc.)
- 55% body language (movements, stance, posture, etc.)
Because there is no visual help in a phone interview, parts of your message may be lost. The body language component is removed from the phone interview, so you must make up for this by smiling, watching your tone and volume, eliminating verbal pauses from your language (um, like, uh, or trailing off), and maintaining enthusiasm throughout the interview.
Tips for Success
Before the Interview:
- Create a professional voicemail and remove any ring backs from your settings
- Put yourself in a situation to avoid interruptions
- Turn off call waiting, if possible
- Dress professionally
- Research the company and treat the interview like a final exam
- Have a copy of your resume, transcript, and cover letter at hand. Also make sure to have the job description in front of you
During the Interview:
- Avoid background noise (no computer, talking, television, radio, etc.)
- Articulate, using all 'ing's and t's (going/gonna, Saturday/Sadurday)
- Smile - this will make you sound more pleasant and sincere
- Stand up and use gestures to help convey your message
Finish a phone interview by conveying your interest in the position and thanking each individual who participated in the interview. Don't forget to ask the timeframe in which you will be hearing back from them. You should email a thank you letter to each individual within 48 hours. For examples of thank you letter format, see The Letter Writing Guide on our website.