How You Can Ace Those Phone Interviews

6 Tricks to Acing Phone Interviews 

You can’t see them, and they can’t see you. Does that make you afraid of phone interviews? As the cost of travel increases, the pressure for companies to be more efficient and effective during the hiring process also increases. Phone calls are used more and more by hiring companies to recruit, screen, and interview. 

What does that mean for you? You need to be prepared to be as amazing on the phone as you are in a face-to-face meeting! Now, how will you sell yourself as the BEST product for the hiring company to buy…over the phone? 

Advantages of Phone Interviews 

You get to cheat! YES, you should have multiple sheets of paper in front of you – don’t try to navigate on a PC while talking. At the minimum, have: 

  • Your résumé. 
  • The job description, complete with any notes or questions you have. 
  • Hard copies of key webpages for the company (About, Divisions, People, Values). 
  • Top interview questions you expect to be asked and your 3 bullet-point answers for each one. 
  • Top questions you want to ask them. 
  • Paper and pen to write down the questions they are asking and to take notes of their comments, insights, and answers. You will need these for the thank you note you will write immediately following the interview!

With all this information at your fingertips you should be able to have great answers and clearly express your interest in the position. Don’t forget to ask to move to the next phase of the interview process! 

Disadvantages of Phone Interviews 

(Good news: You CAN overcome them!) 

  1. You will have a tendency to ramble. No, you will ramble. You are nervous, you want to convey so many points, and you receive no clues on how you are doing.  
  2. It’s harder to understand the question. This can happen for a variety of reasons: English as a second language for one or both of you, the interviewer talks quickly, OR the question was just unclear.  
  3. You can’t read their non-verbal body language. You don’t know if they are smiling or rolling their eyes. They can’t see your hand motions or make eye contact.  
  4. Time will run out and you may not have said all you wanted to say.

Tricks to Ace Your Phone Interview

Trick #1: “The Law of Threes:

Say no more than 3 things and stop talking. Repeat: Say no more than 3 things and SHUT UP. This will not only keep you from rambling, it also gives the interviewer time to think and make notes.  

Take a breath. If the interviewer wants more, he or she will ask. If you are concerned it was too brief, then you can ask, “Would you like me to elaborate on any of the points?” 

Trick #2: Ask for Clarification:

If you didn’t understand the question, then ask them to repeat it. This is not a sign of weakness and it’s important that you answer the right question. Just try not to do this on every question.  

Two ways to ask: “Would you repeat the question please?” or “Would you expand on the question, so I am clear what it is you are looking for?” 

Trick #3: Stand Up and Smile!

Unless the interview is a web conference, you can’t see them and they can’t see you, so stand up when you’re on the phone. Your voice will project better and you’ll sound more confident. If you have a headset, use your hands too. Nobody is seeing you, but if it helps you to be in a presentation mode, then do it. I do!  

Did you know that smiles come through the phone? Yes, when you say something like, “Ms. Miller, I believe I am the best candidate for your position because I’m _____, ____ and ____,” there is a different tonal inflection when you have a smile. They will hear a more up-beat, positive candidate.  

Trick #4: Have the Last Word:

Time will run out. Toward the end, most interviewers will ask if you have any questions. Naturally, you will have prepared some excellent questions based on your research. However, that should not be the end.  

If the interviewer then says, “Well, Mr. Jones, thank you very much for your time and we will be in touch,” then you want to add: “Ms. Miller, thank you very for your time. I would like to reinforce that I am passionate about this position and believe I have the skills to be successful in this role. Do you believe I will go to the next step in the hiring process?” 

Trick #5: Block Prep and Travel Time: 

Block 30 minutes before and after the phone interview in your calendar. The most common excuse I hear for being late for a phone interview is, “Sorry, I was on another call.” Well, then you should not have scheduled back-to-back! 

Trick #6: Be Ready for Video:

Beware! An invitation to a SKYPE call or a link to a webinar is an indicator that it could be video. Better to be over-prepared and ready to be seen. Simply wear professional attire above the waist and check that your video camera and microphone function properly.  

Embrace the future! Phone interviews are here to stay, and you can ace them! Prepare, practice, and perform to earn the opportunity to get a face-to-face interview next!


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