How to Ace a Phone Interview

What is the purpose of a phone interview?

A phone interview is like a pre-date. It is used to ask a few key questions to determine if the candidate is qualified to bring in for a face-to-face interview. Something in the candidate’s resume, application, or cover letter caught the hiring manager’s eye and her or she just wants to be sure.

All the same rules apply to a phone interview as they do to an in-person interview–it’s just more concise with shorter answers. If you smile, they will hear it in your voice.

Preparing for a phone Interview

Before the interview have the following things ready:

  • A copy of your resume
  • A glass of water
  • Pen and paper
  • A quiet place to conduct the call
  • Turn off phone alerts

Make sure you have researched the company and have made a list of your strengths and weaknesses. More on that later.

Don’t do the follow things:

  • Eat
  • Chew gum
  • Smoke
  • Don’t interrupt the interviewer

What to Concentrate on in a Phone Interview

Keep in mind that the goal is to schedule a face-to-face, not complete the entire interview on the phone. The idea is to not waste time–yours or the interviewer’s.

Keep your answers short and only answer what is being asked. If the interviewer wants to know more, he or she will ask.

When you are asked to “tell me about your yourself”, here are some tips:

  • Give information that is related to your relevant work history. Include things that would matter to the job you are applying for.
  • Give examples of projects and jobs that helped prepare you for this job.
  • Give a brief list of your professional skills as they relate to doing this job well.
  • Make any experience you have relevant to the job you are interviewing for.

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”

These are always tricky questions, but they give you another chance to relate to the job you are applying for. When talking about your strengths, focus on the specific skill requirements of the job. Include examples of problem solving.

When talking about your weaknesses, don’t give a canned answer like, “I just work too hard.” Nope, not going to work. Instead, be honest with something like, “Finding time to stay current with all the new technologies and skills required in your field.” Everyone has this problem these days with the fast paced world of technology. Follow it up with an example of how you try to combat this. Classes, webinars, groups, professional organizations, etc.

Avoid Answering Questions about Salary in a Phone Interview

It’s always a good idea to avoid answering this question early in the interview process. It’s hard to say what you want to make without knowing more about the position. When it comes to negotiating a salary, it is also best to get the company to make the first offer.

Related: Negotiating a Job Offer (or anything else you want)

You can reply with something like, “I would like to find out more about the company, the position, and your benefits package before I can answer that question.”

The End Goal of a Phone Interview

When it comes to the end of the phone interview, if you haven’t already been asked to schedule a second interview now is your chance. Usually the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. You can say, “Yes, when can meet in person?”

If you need more advice and tips on interviewing please visit our blog at We have many articles on all aspects of the job search, including interview tips and tricks.

Happy job hunting!

Need More Help?

Join Our DiscussionDoes your linkedin profile need a makeover

For more insights and a community of like-minded professionals join our LinkedIn group Resume Help and Advice for Professionals and Executives.

Leave a Comment