Tips for Phone Interviews

by Peggy Curchack and Kelly Cleary

(courtsey of samantha celera via Flickr)
(courtesy of samantha celera via Flickr)

Tis the season for many employers to conduct phone interviews for internships and full-time jobs. Phone interviews, and even video interviews (through Skype and more formal videoconferencing equipment), are becoming increasingly popular with employers since they are a great way to conduct first rounds while saving time and money.

So, how do you prepare? In many ways, particularly related to the content of the conversation, you should prepare exactly the same way you would for an in person interview. That said, a phone interview does call for some special considerations.

First, make sure you have a reliable phone line secured. A land line is ideal but those aren’t always easy to come by since most students have gone completely mobile. If you can’t find a landline, make sure your cell is fully charged and you will be taking the call in a physical space that is quiet and well supported by your mobile network (areas where the be-speckled Verizon guy and his entourage or Luke Wilson and his AT&T postcards hang out.)

Before you receive the call, prepare your space.  Turn off the radio, TV, email notification beep, or tea pot.  If you have roommates and you’ll be taking the call at home, let them know that you have a scheduled phone interview so that they don’t interrupt you while you’re talking to the employer.  Phone interviews are interesting because on the one hand, since employers can’t see you, you can do things like have your resume in front of you, or have a list of things you want to be sure to say about yourself, and the organization.  On the other hand, since you can’t see them it makes it harder to gauge their reactions.  In general, be sure to keep your answers to the point, and don’t go on and on (that’s good advice for fact-to-face interviews too, but especially important on the phone).

Also, smile.  Yes, literally, smile.  One can “hear” it over the phone. Since for many people it’s harder to project enthusiasm, poise — your personality — when you have no visual clues to support you, it becomes important to compensate for the lack of visuals.  One way to do that is with one’s voice.  We’ve all had the experience of talking to customer service people – I’m sure you can tell when you talk to someone if they are just going through the motions, or are really engaged.

If you are contacted by an employer who is interested in conducting an interview by video conference you may be able to use Career Services’ new video conferencing equipment (ISDN and IP options). For more information go to:

This recent article from Time offers some thoughts on video interviews from the recruiter perspective:

“How Skype Is Changing the Job Interview”,8599,1930838,00.html

The article also includes a video on How to Ace a Job Interview on Skype

Author: Kelly

Kelly Cleary is the Senior Associate Director of Career Services for College of Arts & Sciences undergraduates.

3 thoughts on “Tips for Phone Interviews”

  1. Excellent points! Having prepared resumes for clients plus helped all my kids and their friends prep for job interviews, I can assure you, these are great tips. I am always shocked at how many people do NOT follow these simple steps. One addition tip for those doing the video interview – be sure to dress professionally, no matter how “unimportant” the job may seem. It really makes an important difference. 🙂

  2. smiling over the phone 🙂
    I conduct sales over the phone and I can never stress this enough to those I train! YES, smiles and emotions do travel to the other end with your voice and they have the same effect they would in person.

Comments are closed.