Phone interview tips to master

Any incoming call could be a recruiter wanting to schedule an interview or conduct a quick one on the spot.

Phone interview tips to master

Use these phone interview tips to score a job.

One thing rings true—the phone interview is where every job opportunity starts, and you need to be ready for this very important conversation.

With social distancing ruling out in-person interviews, acing the phone interview has never been more critical. Without handshakes and face-to-face interaction, you have to work even harder to sound smart and connect with the hiring manager since they only have a voice to go on.

Approaching the conversation with confidence and poise can greatly increase your chances of participating in the next round of interviews, and getting invited to take the job.

These phone interview tips can help you move to the next round.

Be prepared

You’ve got the home advantage so set the scene for success. Take the call in a calm and comfortable location that puts you at ease and where you won’t be interrupted or distracted. Barking dogs, street noise, or a loud family member will make it tough for you to focus and will likely distract the interviewer too.

Make sure your cell phone is fully charged (unless you're using a landline), and check that your quiet spot has reliable service so the call doesn't get dropped. Test your headset and connection before dialing in. Be sure to turn off phone and social media notifications, and refrain from multitasking while on the call. Don’t go warm up that coffee in the microwave or visit the bathroom with the phone in hand. 

Have notes nearby

Be ready to discuss your experience, accomplishments, and skills confidently. Before your call, review the job posting and make notes on how your skills and experience are a match for the requirements of the job. Then add some important details about the company and other key points you don’t want to forget to mention on the call. Along with your notes, have a copy of your resume on hand. Having everything in one spot will calm your nerves.

Be prepared to answer tough interview questions. Practice in advance with a mentor or friend for tone and content. Record your answers to common interview questions and fix your faults ahead of the big call.  

Phone interviews also allow for note taking, so be sure to jot down key points made by the interviewer during your call—don't rely on your memory—and use those for formulating talking points throughout the interview.

Build a rapport

Face-to-face interviews are a powerful way to build rapport and an instant connection—something that is a lot tougher to do over the phone. To be able to bond with the recruiter or hiring manager, research them on the company website to find their title and what role they play in the organization. You can also use social media to see if you share any common ground. Maybe they’re from the same city or the same school. Casually mention this commonality at the start of the interview to break the ice.

Be sure to also research the history of the company and its culture so you can build an even more memorable rapport when you answer the question, “Why do you want to come work for us?”

Practice volume and tone

The only thing the interviewer has to go on is what you say and how you say it. Speaking clearly and confidently is essential to winning points, and so too is voice modulation. You don’t want to be too loud or talk too fast, nor do you want to come across as monotone and boring. This goes for any business call or virtual meeting.

Interviewing is stressful, and research reports that smiling helps reduce the body’s response to stress, so deliver your answers with a smile on your face. The warmth will help you connect with the caller.

You need to come across as enthusiastic, energetic, and confidence, so consider taking the call standing up. A confident physical presence can help deliver a strong vocal presence, one that comes across as positive, friendly, and collected. It’s all about putting yourself in a professional mind space—you don’t get a second chance on that first call.

Keep it short and sweet

There isn’t a lot of time in a phone interview, so don’t ramble; keep your responses focused and succinct so your words can be processed. Your goal is to let your interviewer know how your qualifications match the job description, and that you’re a good fit with the organization’s culture and mission.

End the call with clear next steps

Most recruiters will end the call with, “Do you have any questions for us?” Always have a few questions prepared to show your interest in the job.

Also be sure to ask about next steps so you are not left hanging. Recruiters and hiring managers have a clear timeline of their hiring process and can tell you when you can expect to hear from them. You might have another phone interview with the head of sales or HR; knowing what’s next allows you to plan accordingly.

Last but not least, definitely send your interviewer a thoughtful thank-you email within 24 hours.

Get more phone interviews

If your phone hasn't been ringing with job prospects, maybe you haven't been haven’t been doing all you can to get noticed. Need some help with that? Join Monster today for free. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads.