Center for Career Success

Phone Interviews

Before the Interview

Have your resume, notes on the position and organization, paper and pen at your table or desk. Use a quiet room with no distractions. Have a list of accomplishments ready to discuss. Be sure to verify whether the employer is going to call you or vice versa.

During the Interview

Be aware that the employer may put you on speakerphone (possibly with a group), so expect an echo or slight delay after each of you speaks. Make sure to check that the employer can hear you well. Remember to smile – this conveys positive energy and voice intonation. Speak clearly and intentionally.

After the Interview

Thank them for the interview. Also send a thank-you email within 24 hours of the phone interview.

Extra Tips

  • Don’t smoke, eat, or chew gum while interviewing.
  • Have your application materials (job posting, cover letter, resume, notes, etc.) in front of you for reference.
  • Have a professional sounding voicemail message.
  • Do not take other calls (ignore call-waiting) during the interview.
  • Ask your roommate or family to keep quiet during the interview.
  • Avoid nervous habits that will create noise, such as clicking a pen.

Unpredictable Calls

Unpredictable calls from employers do happen. If you receive a call from an employer and are not ready to answer any questions, it is okay to let your phone go to voicemail. However, it is important to return their call in a timely manner. Take no more than a day to gather your thoughts and return the employer’s call.

Additional Interview Types

The Screening Interview: Screening interviews are often very brief (5-45 minutes) and often occur in the human resources office or at job fairs. Although they are less intense than many of the other types, they are the most significant in many ways because they determine whether or not you’ll be invited to continue in the process. They may also occur over the phone.

The Decision Interview: The person with the authority to hire you usually conducts this interview, and it often entails interviews with several people over the course of a full day.

The Behavioral Interview: Behavioral interviewing assumes that your past experiences are good indicators of your future abilities. You’ll be asked to tell stories about your past so that the employer can assess your skills and behavior. There may not be a right or wrong answer. Your answer, alone, may reveal something about your qualities to the employer. By thoroughly understanding the nature of the job and the organization, you can more accurately select examples from your life that have meaning to the employer. Make sure you understand how to use the STAR technique.

Group Interview: When employers offer group interviews, they are testing if you fit in with the dynamics of the group. During a group interview, multiple people will be asking questions. They may want to see how you handle pressure and also judge your “social sophistication.” When answering questions, look everyone in the eye, smile, and stay focused. There are also group interviews where multiple candidates are interviewed simultaneously in a group format. This is often used when a position requires heavy teamwork, so the organization may use this interview technique to see how cooperative you are.

Skype/Teleconference Interview: An organization might request an online interview using video tools. Make yourself comfortable with the software before the interview and prepare beforehand. Make sure you have all your research/other materials present during your interview. Dress professionally and be sure to have your computer in an area that is quiet and free of visual distractions.