8 Power Tips to Nailing a Phone Interview


When you submit your resume for a job opening, it is very likely that the employer will call you to schedule an interview. These calls are increasingly used to screen applicants, they also serve as a surprise mini interview, that helps the employer limit the time dedicated to face to face interviews, go through more applicants, and find the one most suited for the job.

Here are 8 power tips to handle such surprise calls and land the interview for the job you really want.

1. Only Take The Call When You Are Ready:

  • Unless it is a call from you mom, a friend, or someone you really know, DO NOT pick up the phone and start speaking. You want to make sure you are in the right setting and state of mind to take the call.

  • DO NOT answer when you are with the kids at the amusement park, or in the grocery store, out with friends, or enjoying a BBQ with the family. The setting needs to be quite, allows you to move freely with minimal or no distraction.

  • STAND UP, move around, get dressed, smile, and clear your mind. Your state of mind will influence your tone of voice, and the person on the other line will get a feeling about you. Make sure it is a feeling of confidence and enthusiasm.

2. Have A Professional Voice Message:

  • You must create a professional voice message, so you can confidently let your phone ring and go to your voice message whenever you are not ready to take the call.

  • Make sure your voice message is professional and represents the professional you. Tweak if for employers not for your friends, you can always change it back to represent the stand up comedian in you after you get the job.

  • Important: make sure you are on a plan that allows you to save many messages if you expect to be away from your phone for extended periods of time. The last thing you want is for messages from potential employers to be erased because your plan allows only for 3 messages.The extra couple of dollars to upgrade are a very wise investment.

3. Always Be Prepared:

  • Take the time to fully answer, with as much information as possible, the top 10 interview questions.

  • Print it along with the resumes you have sent and submitted, and your notes on the jobs and employers you have applied for. Have your resumes and notes organized and with you at all times.

  • If you have a car, make it your office. If you don't have a car, put your well-organized resumes in a small bag that you carry with you wherever you go.

  • Have a 2-4 line summary of each section of your resume and your answers, just in case the callers act rushed or say they have a few minutes to ask you some questions.

4. Act Professional:

  • Just because they are the employer doesn't mean that you need to go at their pace. You are part of the conversation, introduce yourself confidently and ask them to introduce themselves. Note down their name, position and contact details (especially email, essential for step no.6).

  • Clarify questions, take your time to answer, start with your summary paragraph and then proceed to provide as much information as possible.

5. Ask Questions:

  • It makes a big difference when your call ends with “thank you, good bye” or “may I ask you a few questions” it’s a sign of interest, and of a serious applicant.

  • Make sure you have 1-3 questions that are important for you to ask any employer. You only need to ask one question, leave the rest for the interview, pick the most important, or the one you feel is most relevant and ask away.

  • Here are some very helpful tips on the 30 questions you should and shouldn’t ask in an interview (on the phone or in person)

6. Follow Up Immediately:

  • Make sure you follow up the call with a thank you email (this is why you need the email).

  • This is not a casual email, it’s like a mini cover letter where you get the chance to highlight how your skills align perfectly with the top 1-3 requirements the person emphasized during the call (and from the job description).

  • Make sure you attach any extra information that they asked for during the interview, in addition to any information you promised to provide, such as references, letters of recommendation… etc

7. Follow Up Again:

  • Make sure you follow up a week or 10 days after the first follow up. A nice email to share that it was nice to speak to them and to check if there is any extra information that they may need.

8. Learn And Apply:

  • Whatever the out come of the phone interview or interaction, and however you did, you can always do better, make sure you review your actions, evaluate what you did well and what you can do better.

  • Go to work, update your resume, elevate your cover letter and prepare to do better the next time around.

All the best :)