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Ten tips for the telephone interview

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For many job candidates, the first step in the interview process is a telephone interview which is typically a screening interview.  If you do well, you will be invited to an in-person meeting.  Given its importance, you need to prepare for the phone interview the same way you prepare for an interview conducted in-person: 

  • Research the organization, the job and the interviewer.
  • Prepare to answer typical interview questions and prepare questions to ask.
  • Analyze the job description so you can speak to how your skills and experience are a good match.  For example, if the job requirements mention criteria  like "organizational skills" or "collaboration with team members", be ready to give examples of how you have demonstrated these behaviors in the past.

One advantage of a telephone interview is the ability to have the job description and your notes in front of you as a reminder of what you plan to say.  However, a major disadvantage is the inability to see the facial expression or read the body language of the interviewer as you respond to the questions.   It's important to be as prepared as possible to off-set this disadvantage.  Here are ten tips: 


Before the interview:

1. Obtain the names and job functions of the people who will be conducting your interview.  You will be better able to anticipate particular questions and you can address participants by name.

2.  Secure a private space where you'll have no distractions and good phone service.

3.  Dress for success.  The right clothes will put you in a professional state of mind.

During the interview:

4. Stand when you speak to better project your voice.

5. Smile as you answer. It will encourage you to demonstrate enthusiasm and interest in your tone of voice.

6.  Listen carefully to the questions, and jot down a quick note if needed.

7.  If you are unsure of the interviewer's response to your answer, inquire if they need more information.

8.  When the interviewer concludes the interview, affirm your strong interest in the position and your appreciation for the interviewer's time and the opportunity to interview.

After the interview:

9.  Send a thank you letter, just as you would after an in-person interview.

10.  Reflect on your interview and make a note of questions you found challenging or ways you could improve for the next time you have a telephone interview.


Remember that interviewing is a skill that you can learn.  Reviewing the resources in the Prepare to Interview section of the Career Toolkit will assist you.

You can also schedule a practice interview with a Career Coach.  Check out the Guidelines for Practice Interviews to get started.

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