Telephone interview tips

Q: For the first time ever, and for a period of several months, I have been unemployed. In the past, I always performed well in face-to-face interviews, but I am less confident with phone interviews. What one skill would you recommend strengthening before receiving the call?

A: Telephone interviews have become a popular screening tool, and are now equally as important as an in-person interview. A candidate can either advance through to the next step of the interview process based on the phone conversation or be eliminated.

Here are some tips to help boost your confidence:
1. Confirm the telephone interview in advance, preferably using email to have a record of the date and time.
2. Ensure you have good phone reception. If you are using a cell phone, make sure that you test your reception in advance.
3. Print a copy of your resume and have it accessible during the call.
4. Be on time and prepared. Sometimes candidates take an informal approach to telephone interviews. Don’t make that mistake. Be as prepared and professional for a telephone interview as would for an in-person interview.
5. Rehearse possible responses to questions. Ask a trusted friend or colleague to conduct a mock telephone interview with you.
6. Eliminate distractions. Crate your dog, turn off the radio and, if in your car, pull over to a quiet spot so you are able to talk in a focused way.
7. Don’t forget to ask about next steps. For example, you might close with, “Jane, thanks for taking time to talk to me about the Research Scientist role at ABC Company. Can you tell me what the next steps are in your process? I am really interested in this position.”
8. After the call, follow up with a thank-you email.
9. Stay close to email. You want to be accessible if the employer is trying to reach you after the call.


Telephone interviews are a common first step in the interview process. Like with any skill, your performance will improve with practice.

– editing expertise provided by Ms. Sloan’s 6th grade classes, Hopkinton Middle School

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