A telephone interview can be an excellent way for an employer to do an initial screening of applicants or conduct a full interview. It enables the interviewer to evaluate your communication skills, knowledge and interest of a specific position. Treat the telephone interview as seriously as a face-to-face interview.
In most cases you will be initially contacted to schedule a time for a telephone interview. Be prepared to take the telephone interview during the day or evening hours, including weekends. If you can respond quickly, pleasantly and professionally, you will come across as a much stronger candidate who is interested in a position with the organization.
This type of interview can present a challenge if you are not ready. Being organized and well prepared is the key to success for a telephone interview.
Before the Interview
- Plan the location you will do the interview. Make sure it is a quiet space with reliable cell phone service.
- Research the company and the position you are interviewing for.
- Read over commonly asked interview questions and prepare your answers.
- Prepare questions to ask about the company and position.
- Consider doing a mock telephone interview with a Career Coach or friend to identify areas where improvements can be made.
- Charge your phone.
There are several things you will want to have handy for telephone interviews.
- A copy of your resume/list of references
- Paper and a pen for taking notes
- A copy of your transcripts
- Any correspondence you have had with the employer including company literature
- Your personal calendar and course schedule for the semester in case you need to schedule a company visit or another interview
During the Interview
- Answer the phone in a pleasant and professional manner.
- If you answer the call in a noisy location, ask the interviewer to wait a moment, then quickly move the phone to a quieter location, turn off music, ask roommates to be quiet, etc.
- Posture while on the telephone can affect your voice. Slouching or laying down can cause your voice to be more casual and hard to understand. Sit as you would in an actual interview or at a desk with your notes in front of you.
- If you receive another call during the interview, do not stop to take the other call.
- Avoid chewing gum, eating, drinking or smoking while on the telephone interview.
- Energy and enthusiasm need to come across in your voice. Try to occasionally smile, talk slowly and clearly during the telephone interview.
- Avoid using a speakerphone for an interview.
- Be sure to express interest in the company and appreciation for the telephone interview.
Ending on a Positive Note
- Establish next steps: the interviewer will usually explain what you can expect to happen next: an email or another phone call from the interviewer or someone else in the company. If not, ask.
- Before the telephone interview is ended, be sure you have the interviewer’s name, title, and contact information.
- Treat all telephone calls from any company contact as equally important.
- Send a brief thank you note by mail or email. Refer to the interview, mention one or two items that were discussed and reiterate your interest in the position and their company.