The phone interview checklist

Most people will participate in a phone interview at some point in their career.

Phone Interview Tips

This article is written by Jane Trnka, career counselor at Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business in Winter Park, Fla.

Most people will participate in a phone interview at some point in their career which is why we thought you might be interested in hearing some great tips on how to handle phone interviews.

  • Keep records on hand of everything you send to an employer. Resume, application, biography, notes, etc. so you may refer to them during the phone interview (and subsequent in-person meetings).
  • Don’t interview “on the spot.” If called and told that the company’s rep wants to ask a few questions (screen interview), thank them for the opportunity and then politely suggest a different time (later in the day), so you may be in a location that is more suitable for the conversation; many times, people are not in an appropriate place to be able to conduct a job interview. This will give you time to collect your thoughts and refocus on the role, company, your skills and talents.
  • When called or emailed to schedule time to interview via phone, ask: with whom you’ll be talking and how long should you plan for the call. If called for the appointment, get the name and contact information of the person who is scheduling the meeting. Confirm who will call who (usually the company representative or leader will make the call).
  • Plan to have the call on a landline if possible, as the connection is usually more clear. If using your cell phone, make sure it is fully charged.
  • Confirm the appointment the day before. Not only will this help you to prepare, but also demonstrates your organization and communicates that you are looking forward to the opportunity to talk about the role and your contributions the company’s success.
  • Review the job description and make notes so you may talk about your experiences, education, etc. that align with the requirements and expectations of the role. Even if it is a phone screen, you will want to sound intelligent about the opportunity and company.
  • Dress as if you are participating in an in-person interview. And, smile! Your attitude on the phone will reflect your professionalism. Standing while talking will help with your breathing pattern. But, don’t walk around a lot, as you may get distracted (and your shoes may make sounds on the flooring!)
  • Make sure you are in a quiet area, free from distractions, throughout the entire phone call.
  • Call or make sure you answer the phone at the appointed time.
  • Take your time while answering questions. It is OK to ask that a question be repeated. Use the person’s and company’s name throughout the call (but don’t over do it).
  • Take notes if possible, so you can reflect on questions, comments, etc. for future reference.
  • At the end of the call: Ask what the next steps will be, so you will know what to expect; if you don’t already have the person’s contact information, ask them for it (for thank you note and future reference); thank them for the opportunity to meet with them.
  • Send a thank you note. Hand written is preferred, but depending on the process and previous communications, email may be alright. A handwritten note tends to make a positive, lasting impression.
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