Become a real expert at phone interviews to impress potential employers


Gordon Martin

As the job landscape quickly changes around us, phone interviews are becoming more, and more important and popular. Whether they are used as a preliminary measure, or a way of making some first-round cuts when it comes to a position with many applicants, it is crucial for you to not only do well with your phone interview, but to stand out and shine through it, too. These days, phone and video conference interviews are just standard practice if you are looking to land a good job coming out of school.

Unfortunately, getting on the phone with a company does not necessary mean you have your foot in the door. Because there are so many people applying for jobs and looking for employment, getting on the phone with a company is only your next best chance of getting yourself through to the next round of interviews. Here are some expert tips for giving the best phone interview you are capable of doing for impressing your potential employers:

Keep calm, do not panic

It may go without saying, but one of the absolute worst things you can do before any kind of interview is allow yourself to get panicked and psyched out. Once this happens, you are toast. It is really hard to present your best self if you are panicked. In order to remain calm, it is important to keep an eye on your goals - do not let your mind stray off into tangents, or imaginary situations.

Shake hands

Sounds simple, but staying calm will give you a great shot at nailing the interview right off the bat. Do whatever preparations you have to do before hand in order to feel calm and confident before taking (or making) the call will help make sure that you are not hyping yourself up too much. After all, it is hard to be your best self if you are fighting off nervous nausea.

Make yourself comfortable

Unlike in-person, or even video conference interviews, phone interviews allow you to take full advantage of whatever you need to do in order to be comfortable and calm. Suddenly, you have no obligation to dress in your finest clothing, and put a lot of time and effort into trying to make the perfect visual first impression - that comes after you nail the phone interview! Because of this, you can sit back and be as comfortable as you want in order to get the best performance out of yourself. Whether this means laying in bed, sitting at your desk, or pacing the kitchen floor, there are no limits to what you can do to feel your best - just make sure you are not distracted while talking. While there are no requirements to be dressed for the part, or to be sitting at a desk during the interview, there is a lot to be said for dressing for the part. Dressing up in your interview clothes, and sitting at a table or desk (as you would at an in-person interview) can help put you into the right mindset to crush the call. It is totally up to you, and what makes you feel the most comfortable.

Industries that commonly use phone interviews

  • PR, Advertising and Marketing
  • Accounting and Finance
  • Engineering
  • Sales
  • IT
  • HR and Recruitment
  • Media

Do the research, be prepared

We did give advice to take your mind off of the interview, and not allow yourself to get too stressed out, and this is true. However, leading up to your phone interview, it is crucial that you do research and make sure you are fully prepared for what is coming your way. This means having answers to some basic interview questions ready and prepared, however, you will also want to make sure you do a little homework on the background of the company you are interviewing with. Knowing who the company is, what they do and what they stand for will help you know what kind of answers they will be looking for, but can also help you have a good feel for what kind of questions are going to be asked. You can figure a lot of this out by browsing the company's website, social media and press releases.

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Make sure that you are also prepared when it comes to your own resume and CV, as well. Having the info about yourself that you have given to the company handy is a good way to make sure you are able to quickly and easily refer to things on your CV without having to "umm" or "arr" too much. You can write up new notes to keep close by during the interview, as well. These notes can help remind you of things you want answered, or qualities about yourself you want to be brought up.

research reports to help prepare for your interview

Get zen

In line with keeping calm and keeping panic to a minimum, here are some quick and easy ways to centre yourself before jumping into the phone interview. Pair any of these relaxation tips with making sure you do your homework and are prepared will lead to you giving a better phone interview:

Sipping on some green tea is a good way to release anger and stress, putting you in the perfect state to tackle any questions coming your way.

Whether it is minty, fruity, or good-ole bubble gum, chewing on a chunk of gum is actually a great way to ease yourself of stress and anxiety. Just make sure you spit the gum out before you hop onto the phone, no one wants sloppy chewing in their ear!

Not sure we need to explain this one, but snacking on a small square of sweet chocolate is a great way to give your nerves a nice calming. Dark chocolate, especially, is good at regulating your bodies levels of cortisiol, which is a stress hormone.

There is no simpler way to relax, but it still needs to be said more often than it should: Remember to breathe. Slow breathing helps reduce your blood pressure and your heart rate which calms you down, and allows you to think.

OK, maybe not a hike, but taking a brisk walk before you have to sit down and tackle the phone interview is a great way to give yourself a splash of fresh air, and help clear your head of negative thoughts, and worry.

Maybe you will put your gym playlist on hold for this one, but calming, peaceful music may be exactly what you need in order to find the perfect relaxation hot zone to enter your phone interview on.

Practice makes perfect

It may be a cliche, but it is true. While not having to look across the table at the person interviewing you can seem like a bonus, it can lead to a lot of unforeseen difficulties, as well. Losing your place, getting flustered, or repetitively interrupting the person on the other side of the phone are all major issues that can easily come up while doing a phone interview. This is why practising is so important. Here are some ways to practice your phone interview skills:

  • Get a friend to ask you questions over the phone and give you feedback
  • Record yourself answering questions so you can an critic your own ability to keep on target and not get lost or flustered
  • Practice giving answers to some basic interview questions, focus on not making your answers sound generic or cliche
  • Write questions on flashcards and shuffle them up so you can practice answering basic questions in an unexpected order
  • Gather as much feedback from friends, or family as you can
  • Do not let the sound of your own voice throw you off
  • Practice catering your answers to areas you know the company likes to focus on

Make sure you listen

It might go without saying, but listening is the most important part of any phone interview. Period. It is far too easy to get caught up in saying your pitch, especially if you have prepared answers, and done your homework. However, it is vital that you take the time to listen, and listen carefully. Waxing poetic will do you no good if it has nothing to do with what you were actually asked. Make sure you carefully listen to what you are actually being asked, and make sure to wait until the question is finished before you begin answering. Interrupting the person on the other end of the phone is never a good idea. Slow things down, take your time, and make sure that you are paying attention and not just looking for key words to hit your next talking point.

Treat a phone interview like a face-to-face meeting

You may be spared the stress of a face-to-face interview and all the trappings that come along with them (hello awful first impressions!), but that does not mean that a phone interview is a carefree, and fancy-free affair. While you cannot be seen, and thus not judged on how you dress or carry yourself, you must still be aware about how you verbally carry yourself. Manners go a long way, after all. Keep the non-words to an absolute minimum, and remember that the cliche is true: People can tell when they are talking to someone who is smiling.


Phone interviews are becoming increasingly common place. Embrace this fact and gen up on how to ace these barriers to work. Remember that you are only talking to another human and being yourself is the key. Let us know about your job interview experience and top tips for smashing it!

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