How to Nail Your Next Phone Interview

Interviewing in-person is tough enough, but add to it the mysterious methods of interviewing over the phone, and it suddenly seems 3x more challenging. By implementing some quick and easy techniques, you can go from dreading the phone interview to making it a simple stepping stone in the hiring process. Here are 3 tips to help you nail your next phone interview so that you can then impress the employer face-to-face.

1.     Take advantage of the opportunity!

Not having to meet in person means that the employer obviously can’t see you. Although this sounds like a detriment at first, this opportunity can be actually helpful to you.

By making notes or an outline of your thoughts ahead of time, you’ll be better prepared with these notes right in front of you as you speak. Write out key points you hope to make in response to common questions like “Tell me about yourself” or “What’s your biggest weakness?”

Brainstorm your questions to ask ahead of time and refer to them when the time comes (usually the last 10 minutes of a phone interview).

Jot down any key takeaways about the organization from your research and during the phone interview itself, so that you can reflect on it both during the call as well as afterward for further evaluation.

2.     Be Aware of Your Non-Verbal Cues.

While it sounds completely counter-intuitive to focus on non-verbal cues during a phone call, they actually still play a large role. Your tone of voice and confidence level is greatly impacted by your body language, and employers can pick up on this over the phone.

Prior to the call, do a few power poses to influence your hormone levels. Power posing can actually increase testosterone and decrease cortisol levels, making you feel more confident and less stressed. Sit up with your shoulders back, projecting your voice.

Some people find it helpful to dress up as you would for an in-person interview, as dressing the part can also influence the way you think and speak. I’ll never forget a phone interview I did in sweats, sitting on my couch. Let’s just say I most certainly did not get the job, largely in part due to the fact that I was talking to the employer like I was sitting in my sweats on my couch.

Most importantly, don’t forget to smile! You can hear when someone is smiling when they talk (test it out, if you’d like) so this is a simple and effective way to show your enthusiasm and positivity.

3.     Respect the Silence.

It’s tempting to fill every space of silence during the phone interview, hoping that you’ll keep the employer engaged and interested in what you have to say. I’ve made this mistake myself and actually had an employer interrupt me to move on and ask a different question. Learn from my mistake and stop talking when you’ve finished answering the question. It’s as simple as that.

It can be helpful to provide structure to your answers so that the interviewer understands when you are wrapping up an answer. For example, rather than continuing to ramble on and on about your strengths you could try:

“There are 3 key strengths that I would bring to make me excel in this position. First, I’m a great connector. I love to collaborate and build partnerships among seemingly different groups, as demonstrated by my ability to create two extremely successful sponsorship relationships in my last role. Second, I’m extremely well-organized. I’ve been able to plan and execute two annual conferences of over 500 guests and 60 speakers thanks to my organizational skills. And third, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone with as strong a work ethic as mine. I do whatever it takes to get the job done, working diligently and persistently even in challenging situations. Recently completing my doctorate is certainly a testament to this strong work-ethic.”

See how words like first, second, and third help to create a structure and let the listener know where you’re going? Another way to indicate that you’re wrapping up your answer is to summarize or provide a concluding thought. Using a phrase like “in conclusion” or “in summary” can help. For example:

“In the end, the client was very pleased with the way I was able to troubleshoot and deliver ahead of schedule. They even wrote to my supervisor to let her know. It felt good to know I made a huge impact on our client’s success and I’d plan to go above and beyond to get the same results, if not better, here.”


What other techniques do you utilize when it comes to phone interviews? Try implementing these tips during your next one and let me know how you do!