Phone interviews

How to prepare

When applying for a job prepare for the unexpected. Phone interviews are becoming increasingly popular as a means of narrowing down candidates for a more traditional face to face interview.

Supporting notes and documentation

At a minimum have have a pen and paper accompanied by your resume next to the phone. A phone interview can really put you in an advantage. The reason is that you can refer to any paper work whilst on the phone. Consider composing a 'cheat sheet'. This could include company information, what you could bring to the role, interview question responses and anything else to prompt you along. Keep your calendar / date book close by also as you may need to confirm your upcoming schedule. The aim here to to come across as a well informed and organised. Being prepared in this way will increase your chances of being invited for a face to face interview.

Have questions ready

A great way to show your interest in the position is to consider preparing a few intelligent questions to ask the interviewer. Keep your questions open and friendly. Try not to sound as though your reading them from paper in front of you. See also What questions to ask the interviewer.

Let people know

If you have supplied a fixed line number as a contact be sure to brief any persons likely to answer on your behalf. Explain to them the importance of your job application and how their phone manner may have an impact on the interviewer.

Voice mail

Using a voice mail service is a great way for an interviewer to leave a brief message. Consider a short professional greeting no more than 15 seconds. Avoid voice mail jokes or background music.

Phone etiquette

Try your best to create a great first impression

When answering your telephone be sure to use a warm friendly greeting.

On the phone your tone and manner can be effected by your body language . At a minimum smile. Don't slouch or lounge around while on the phone. This will most certainly have an impact as to how you are interpreted.

Use your interviews name on the throughout the call to build up a good rapport.

When on the phone be sure to speak clearly. To avoid distortion leave a two finger space between your mouth and handset.

If you are unable to hear the interviewer consider the following line: 'I'm having a little trouble hearing you. Can you hear me clearly?'

Towards the end of the call remember to thank the interviewer for his or her call.

Where possible hang up last. Hanging up early or abruptly may given an impression that you are in a hurry or disinterested. Obviously if your interviewer doesn't hang up after at least 3 seconds of saying good bye do hang up first.

Phone interview do's and don'ts



  • Do list accurate contact information on your cover letter / resume
  • Do practice with a friend over the phone
  • Do ensure that you can hear / be heard
  • Do disable call waiting if a phone interview is inevitable
  • Do keep a glass of water handy
  • Do smile. A smile will most certainly be projected across the phone.
  • Don't eat, drink, chew gum or smoke
  • Don't interrupt
  • Don't give short answers. Where possible give a detailed response
  • Don't sniffle, sneeze or cough over the phone. Excuse your self if need be

After the phone interview

If applicable write down any important information discussed for future reference.

Where appropriate send a thank letter. This could be in the form of a email or depending on the depth of the phone interview you may consider sending a traditional thank you letter via post.