Navigating Phone Interviews

Brittany Carpenter| August 15, 2017| Interviews

It’s likely that before you get the opportunity to meet an employer face-to-face, you’ll have to pass round one of the interview process: the dreaded phone screen. It has become common practice for hiring managers to screen candidates via phone before an in-person meeting. This is often done to narrow down a large applicant pool and identify worthy candidates in a time and cost-efficient manner.

A phone interview is just the initial step in the hiring process. In most cases you will also be required to meet for an in-person interview, should the employer choose to continue exploring your employment eligibility. An exception to this, of course, is if you are interviewing for a long-distance or remote position. Your resume might look great, but if you don’t nail the initial phone interview you’ll never be invited to a face-to-face meeting.

Many job seekers may feel they are at a disadvantage during a phone interview, which can act as an additional source of stress in the already stressful job search process. Body language is an important factor of communication, and phone interviews entirely eliminate this aspect of communication. In fact, roughly 80% of the communication process relies on sight alone. During a face-to-face interview, appearance, eye contact and posture are tools that help candidates reaffirm their qualifications for the job. In a phone interview, all of this is lost.

The Good News

Fortunately for job seekers there are hidden advantages to the phone interview. Unlike traditional interviews, you can create a personal cheat-sheet to reference throughout the call without being caught! Write down facts about yourself, information about the company, and prepared answers to any questions they might throw your way. After all, interviewers won’t be able to see you glancing at this so feel free to reference this aide as much as possible.

Phone interviews also allow you to speak with employers from the comfort of your own home. This means you don’t have to go through the effort of changing into professional attire and can lounge around in your sweats as you sell yourself. Just don’t get too comfortable -you’ll want to do as much prep for a phone interview as you would if it were in-person.


These interviews are usually scheduled in advance, though there may be cases in which you receive a surprise call. To best anticipate this, make sure your outgoing voicemail is friendly and appropriate. If someone does call you unannounced, only chat with them at length if you are prepared to do so without distraction. It is completely acceptable to ask to reschedule at a time that would better suit your ability to interview well.

If you’re expecting a hiring manager to call you, it is important to answer the phone yourself. Having someone else answer the phone may seem as though you are unprepared and can make a poor first impression. Confirm the time and date of your interview and be sure to factor in time zones if necessary to avoid confusion. Also, confirm that they will be the ones to call you and not vice versa. Though it is uncommon to expect a candidate to be the one to reach out, it is not unheard of.

During the interview have a pen and paper handy to take notes along with a copy of your resume to refer to you if you get stuck. It is best to be in a quiet environment so you can concentrate as well as easily hear the interviewer and them you.

As you would in a face-to-face interview, thank the person for their time and inquire about next steps in the interview process. A thank you email can also go a long way in helping you rise above other candidates. With enough preparation and practice, you’ll soon be flying through phone interviews with ease.