Phone Interview Tips: How to Conduct Yourself Before, During and After the Interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 25, 2022 | Published August 25, 2020

Updated July 25, 2022

Published August 25, 2020

Although employers tend to have different hiring procedures, most of them use phone interviews in the initial stages. Phone interview questions offer an effective way to conduct preliminary screenings and also allow employers to advance qualified candidates to the next stage of the hiring process. While some employers only conduct one phone interview, others may do two or three before asking the candidate for an in-person interview.

Because your interviewer can't see your face in this type of interview, you'll need to make use of professional language and a tone that promotes clear and well-composed answers. In this article, we discuss why employers use phone interviews, tips for a successful phone interview, how to prepare for a phone interview, common mistakes to avoid and some sample phone interview questions.

Why do employers use phone interviews?

Employers use phone interviews because it enables them to identify and recruit the right candidates for an open position. Furthermore, phone interviews help to:

  • Screen candidates

  • Help recruiters narrow down a pool of applications

  • Minimize the cost incurred by facilitating the movement of out-of-town candidates

  • Provides a method for interviewing for remote positions

Related: What Is a Phone Screening Interview?

Tips for a phone interview

When you are expecting a phone interview, there are a few things you can do to ensure you are just as prepared as you would be for an in-person interview. Consider the following tips to help you prepare:

  • Use a landline if you have one. This will help you to eliminate the possibility of dropped calls or poor reception.

  • Clear your room. Make sure you have a way to keep any pets or kids busy before receiving an interview call. Also, turn off your TV and stereo, and close the door and any windows in the room. This way, you can limit distractions and focus on your interview.

  • Reschedule the interview if you must. If the time of the call interview isn't convenient, or something unexpected comes up, be sure to inquire if you could talk at a later time. Make sure you do this at least a week in advance so that your interviewer has time to adjust their schedule.

  • Limit phone interruptions. You might have other incoming calls that may interfere with your interview session. To ensure your call isn't interrupted, turn off the call-waiting mode and place your messages in do not disturb mode.

  • Prepare to take notes. Have paper and a pen handy for taking notes. You may need to write down important information about salary expectations, job duties or other facts to evaluate if the job is right for you.

  • Have your CV handy. Try and keep your CV in view. You can either tape it to the wall or place it on top of your desk. This way, it will be accessible if you need it for reference when answering questions.

  • Create a checklist. Visit the company's website and review the job posting once more, making a list of how your qualifications and skills match the hiring criteria. This may be helpful when answering questions about your qualifications for the position in question.

Related: Phone Etiquette Guide: 11 Rules for Professional Phone Calls

Preparing for a telephone interview

Being prepared for your telephone interview can give you the best chance of advancing through the hiring process. The following steps will enable you to gain composure and perform well during a telephone interview:

  1. Proper planning. Planning for possible questions during an interview can provide you with the confidence to answer them intelligently. As you prepare for potential questions, think about how you will answer them. Also, think of relevant questions you might want to ask the interviewer, such as what the daily office environment is like. While doing so, be sure to avoid asking questions whose answers you could find with little research. Instead, ask questions that are relevant to you.

  2. Research. Try to find as much information about the company and the open position as possible. Be sure to visit the company's website to identify its organizational structure, markets, future plans, products and services, size and competitors.

  3. Practice. Conducting a practice phone interview might be a great way to prepare for the actual interview. If possible, try getting family members and friends to call you and ask various interview questions.

Do's during a telephone interview

When interviewing over the phone, try and observe the following:

  • Remember that your aim is to arrange for an in-person interview. At the end of the phone interview and upon thanking the interviewer, convey your enthusiasm to meet them in person to learn more about their company and the position.

  • Have questions to ask the interviewer ready. Be prepared to respond if the interviewer asks whether you have any questions for them by writing out a list of questions on a sheet of paper.

  • Give short answers. The time for the interview might be limited, so you should try to keep your answers concise unless the question requires a more in-depth response. For example, 'What are your three greatest strengths and an example for each?' requires a more lengthy answer than 'What college did you attend?'

  • Give yourself a moment to think before answering. It is perfectly fine that you take a moment or two to bring your thoughts together during the interview session. This can help you keep your answers concise and effective.

  • Listen, focus and enunciate. It is imperative that you focus on the interview. Listen keenly to the question and seek clarifications if you aren't sure what the interviewer is asking. When responding, be sure to speak carefully, slowly and clearly.

  • Smile. Smiling changes the tone of your voice and projects a positive image to the interviewer. To give your voice more enthusiasm and energy, consider standing during the interview.

  • Have a glass of water. With a glass of water at hand, you can take a quick sip if your mouth gets dry. This can help you maintain a clear and enthusiastic voice.

  • Use the interviewer's title and last name. This will make you sound more formal in your reference to the interviewer. You may only use their first name if they allow you to. It can also help the interviewer feel valued and may help them pay better attention to your answers.

  • Dress up. Even though the interviewer can't see you, dressing in business attire can help you feel more polished and prepared for the interview.

Related: 10 Tips on What Not To Wear to an Interview (With Alternatives)

Common mistakes during a phone interview

By understanding the potential mistakes that could occur during a phone interview, you can take the necessary precautions to ensure they don't happen to you. The following are common mistakes to be aware of:

  • Not charging your phone. If you are planning to use a mobile phone for your interview, be sure to charge it on the day of the interview. Having a fully charged phone can help you feel at ease and also ensures a productive interview.

  • Forgetting the interview. It is important that you add the interview schedule to your calendar so you can remember it and prepare for that specific date and time. This can also help you allot time ahead of the interview to mentally prepare.

  • Answering the phone poorly. Your opening phrases, such as 'good morning' or 'good afternoon,' should be enthusiastic, engaging and outgoing. Strive to impress the interviewer at all stages of your conversation.

  • Lack of proper considerations when arranging an interview. Some candidates tend to arrange their interviews without ensuring that they'll be in a suitable location to take the interview calls. When organizing your phone interview, plan where you will be at the time of the interview. This will ensure you can answer your interview call in a quiet and distract-free location.

  • Use of slang. Refrain from using colloquialisms during a phone interview such as "at the end of the day" or "draw the line." Although your interviewer may understand these references, using more formal, professional language can help you stand out.

Frequently asked phone interview questions

Here are some common questions to help you prepare:

What makes you the best candidate for this job?

On paper, many applicants qualify for every job opening. The recruiter intends to narrow down the number of applicants to those who stand out from the rest. They achieve that by asking this question. The right candidate should be able to connect key elements of the job to their skills and qualifications.

What type of manager would you work best with?

This question aims to figure out the type of leadership style you prefer. The relationship between the manager and an employee is crucial for the success of the company. The recruiter wants to be sure you can get along and work well with your boss. It is true you will also enjoy working with a manager you get along with.

What is your salary expectation?

Many interviewers will ask this question during a phone interview. This helps them narrow down the candidate pool to those whose expectations match the salary range they have within their budget. Research common salaries for the position within your state to determine an appropriate response, should this question come up.

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