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8 Tips for Preparing for an Over-the-Phone Job Interview

man in home office talking on phone

Phone interviews can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. While phone interviews might seem less intimidating than in-person interviews, it’s still essential to adequately prepare for this critical conversation.

Research the Company

You should get to know the company you’re applying to before your interview. What products or services does it offer? Is the company working towards a particular initiative or goal right now? What is the company’s mission?

If you’re familiar with the company, you’ll be better able to discuss how you fit in and what you can bring to the table. For instance, you can talk about ideas you have to support a particular project or how your values align with the company’s core values. Speaking to these specifics will help show your passion for the role.

Do Some Digging On Your Interviewer

Do some research on your interviewer before your call. If their email doesn’t indicate their title, head over to the company’s website to see what they do. For a phone interview, your interviewer might be someone in human resources or in the department where you’d be working.

Researching your interviewer can help give you things to talk about. If they are in the department in which you’ll be working, ask them questions about what current projects are exciting them and what day-to-day life in the department is like. If they work in human resources, you can ask questions about the overall company culture and what they like about working there.

Getting to know your interviewer ahead of time can help you feel more at ease and make the conversation flow better.

Find a Quiet Spot

You should be in a quiet (if not completely silent) location when doing your phone interview.

If you’re at home, make sure your partner, kids, and pets are somewhere else, so they don’t accidentally disturb you. Try to avoid going out to a public space like a coffee shop unless you can guarantee that the noise level will be minimal. You don’t want to worry about struggling to hear your interviewer (or having them struggle to hear you).

Make sure your notifications are turned off on all electronics. Nothing’s more distracting than dealing with pings from your apps while you’re trying to concentrate.

Practice Potential Questions

Practicing potential questions before your job interview can help you feel more at ease.

It’s a safe bet that your interviewer will ask you at least a few standard interview questions, such as explaining your employment history and covering your strengths and weaknesses. Practice your answers ahead of time so that you sound confident. If you have any gaps in your employment history, for instance, rehearsing what you’re going to say can help you feel more comfortable discussing something you might be nervous about.

If you’re applying for a job at a large company, you might be able to find interview questions online. Check websites like Glassdoor to see if previous applicants can offer any insight into questions that they were asked.

Answer the Phone Yourself

closeup of man wearing gray shirt answering phone

You should be prepared to answer the call from your interviewer yourself. Don’t have your parents or spouse or roommates pick up your phone.

When you answer the phone, calmly state your name like so: “Hello! This is ___,” so that you let the interviewer know they have reached the correct person.

Be Ready to Go Five Minutes Before Your Call

You should be ready for your interview at least five minutes before your scheduled time, in case your interviewer calls early. That means that you should have all of your materials on hand and be in a quiet space, ready to answer the call.

While most interviewers will call right on time, it doesn’t hurt to be ready early.

Have Your Resume and the Job Description Handy

Keep a copy of your resume and job description near you during the interview. Print out paper copies so that you don’t have to worry about clicking or typing on your computer.

Having your resume and the job description nearby helps you easily reference needed materials. If, for instance, your interviewer asks you a question about a previous position, you can refer to your resume to see how you characterized your work.

Similarly, you can refer to the job description to ask questions about the potential role and get a feel for what your responsibilities will be. You can also refer to the job description so that you know which skills and experience of yours you should highlight.

Follow Up

You should follow up after your phone interview. Send a quick note to your interviewer thanking them for their time and reiterating your interest in the position. If you are no longer interested in the position after your call, it’s polite to send a note indicating that, too.

While phone interviews might be nerve-wracking, it’s important to remember that you’ve made it to this stage in the application process! The hiring team has seen something in you that they like.

Do your prep work, then relax and feel confident. You’ve got this!

Hayley Milliman Hayley Milliman
Hayley is a former Teach for America teacher turned curriculum developer and writer. Over the past five years, she's written hundreds of articles on everything from education to personal finance to history. She's co-author of the book  Females. Read Full Bio »
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