Phone Interview Preparation

In earlier times, companies used to conduct only face to face interviews. Nowadays, it is common to go through a series of phone interviews prior to making it through the company’s door. Interviewing a candidate over the phone serves many purposes, including filtering candidates without incurring upfront travel, flight, and hotel expenses.


As a candidate, how do you prepare for a phone interview? You need to prepare just as though you were meeting your potential employer face to face. You can take the phone interview from the privacy and comfort of your location of choice. This eases the tension candidates usually feel when attending a face to face interview. However, this does not mean that you take a phone interview any less seriously. The result of the phone interview will determine whether or not you advance to the next stage of the interview process. Here are a few tips to effectively handle a phone interview:


  • Sometimes a company might conduct several levels of interviews over the phone before deciding to meet a candidate personally. Talk to the recruiter or hiring manager in advance and find out how many rounds of interviews will be there and what each one will comprise. Try to learn about the person you will be speaking with prior to the call. Looking them up on LinkedIn is a quick way to find out where they may be coming from when talking with you. Your recruiter should be able to provide answers to your questions directly prior to the call if requested.
  • Prepare the night before with basic company research and a list of anticipated questions you might be asked. The first level phone interview will typically ask general questions about your background, your career highlights, your skills and experience. Keep your resume on hand to quickly recall dates or accomplishments.
  • Settle yourself comfortably at a desk with a phone in a closed room. Switch off any devices with timers that might go off and distract you during the interview.
  • Keep your voice level, and strong. Allow your interviewer to complete their question before you answer. Let them lead the interview, follow their tone and pace.
  • Smile (it comes across), be friendly, and prepared for brief introductory small talk.
  • Be yourself (an “in a good mood” version of yourself).
  • Listen to each question carefully and respond with concise, fact-filled sentences; responses should be limited to 90 seconds. Don’t take charge and go off on tangents they did not ask you about.
  • If you are unsure that you answered their question appropriately, ask “did that answer your question?” or “is that what you were looking for?”.
  • Integrate questions into the interview as you feel appropriate, if not given the chance wait for them to ask whether you have any questions. Sample questions include:
      1. What are you looking for in the “ideal candidate?”
      2. What are the critical factors for success on the job?
      3. What are your company’s short and long-term goals?
      4. Why is the position open?
  • Never – EVER ask about the compensation. This is something that should only be discussed with your recruiter or when the client brings the issue up.
  • When the interviewer completes their questions, don’t ask how you did. You’ll know when they schedule the second round with you.
  • Always thank the interviewer for their time when the call’s over and let them know that it’s a privilege to be interviewed for so and so company. Send a “thank you” email to them or ask your recruiter to forward them one.
  • Call your recruiter immediately afterward to debrief them and let them know if your interest level has changed or if you have any new questions they should find out for you.

By Anjela Mangrum, the founder of Mangrum Career Solutions Inc.  MCS partners with industrial and automation manufacturing businesses to source and secure transformational leaders for critical hiring needs in Operations and Supply Chain.  They work to empower individual job seekers by helping them gain a competitive edge in their job search. For hiring needs contact Anjela at 513.753.3813 x17.

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