14+ Best Phone Interview Tips for Your Next Prescreen Call [2020]

phone interview tips

Attending a phone interview is going to be something you’ll be required to do at some point in your career. Speaking with a hiring manager or recruiter regarding an available job opportunity, and assessing whether or not you are qualified to be going for an on-site interview is standard in the hiring process. But what are some phone interview tips that all job seekers should know?

As a job seeker, a phone interview can feel daunting. If you haven’t attended one, you might be thinking to yourself that this is a casual encounter much like an informal interview. But in reality, a hiring manager may have a set amount of questions that they’re looking to ask you. And you should be prepared for the phone call and ready to answer.

Let’s jump into the best phone interview tips to prepare you for the interview process and make sure you impress your interviewer, recruiter, or hiring manager.

Best Phone Interview Tips

Below are the best phone interview tips gathered from Human Resources professionals. Their expert advice on ensuring that you ace your interview, conclude your job search and show the recruiter or hiring manager that you’re a good fit for the position.

Research who you are interviewing with

When the schedule for the phone screen interview comes in, you’ll see the name of the person you are going to be meeting with. Be sure that you take the time to research who they are. What their role is. And what they might be interested in. This can help to make an immediate connection between you and the interviewer quite quickly. Which can help to make sure that you, the job seeker and the interviewer feel comfortable.

Research the company

Having a really good understanding of what the company is trying to obtain is vital. It goes beyond simply knowing who they are. Let’s presume you are meeting with Apple. What is Apple working on this year? What is the latest product they released? Latest software? Get a firm understanding of how they work, who they are, and what they’re working on. This can help you to ask the interviewer questions toward the end of the phone screen interview and make the phone call productive.

Find a quiet place

This sounds obvious. But find a place where you can have a phone call. You should have good cell phone reception, somewhere that you won’t get distracted, and the ability to prevent outside noise. For example, taking the phone interview outdoors, in a busy city, would not be recommended.

Know your resume

The recruiter might ask you questions related to your resume. Know what your resume says so that you can reference it later without needing to look at it. Remember the skills that you placed on your resume, the previous job functions you listed, accomplishments, and more.

Be ready to answer interview questions

The recruiter might ask you questions like, what’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a person in your field? Or what is your dream job? Something like that. Be prepared for all types of interview questions as though this is a regular interview. Your employer still wants to qualify you. Meaning that the phone interviewer will need to think about questions to ask you and then look for an ideal response. In this sense, it is similar to a regular interview (informational interview) but has a phone conversation tied to it as well.

Have good body language

You can’t have body language by phone. But you would be surprised to find out that the interviewer should feel the body language you are performing while you are on the phone. For example, are you comfortable? If you are, they will feel it. Are you sitting properly, with good posture? If so, they’ll feel that too. Are you smiling? If so, they will feel that! Don’t believe me? Try having a phone call with someone who is in a bad mood, you’ll be able to tell!

Leave a lasting first impression

The key to a successful phone interview is to leave a lasting first impression on the recruiter, hiring manager, or interviewer. The way to do that is to show a healthy amount of interest in the role. Asking the interviewer questions like, “What’s the best way to create success in this role?” or “Can you tell me what you are currently working on?” Questions like these can allow the interviewer to feel like you are engaged in the conversation. And that’s key to having good chemistry, which leaves a good impression.

Don’t forget to send a thank-you note

A thank-you email after your interview is vital. It will “lock-in” your good impression. Sending a note within 24-hours of your phone interview being complete is necessary. You should send a customized note, thanking the interviewer for their time and looking forward to hearing more about the job opportunity and next steps (which might include the next phone interview).

Practice with a mock interview

Have a friend or previous colleague, ideally, someone who has attended a phone interview in the past, perform a mock interview with you. Notice how you answer questions and how long it takes you to explain who you are, what soft skills you have, what your current job is, things like that. And try to hone in on the way you describe yourself. Have your friend ask you an interview question, then respond as though the interview was with your potential employer. Each question should be random, as though you were hearing it for the first time. And this replicates what the job interview might be like.

Be prepared to talk about salary

A lot of interviewers will ask you what your salary expectations are during this interview. Be sure you have your answer. You can answer by calculating your current salary and then adding in 12% to that, and having your rough average salary range to explain. Be sure to provide a salary range and never an exact figure during this phone call.

Be ready to get tested

The interviewer might be trying to learn more about you throughout the telephone interview. They might try to test you. Their goal is to figure out their candidate’s motivations as well as how qualified the person is for the job. Throughout the conversation, they may try to test your abilities. And this is with good intention. They want to protect their employer from a “bad hire”. Be mentally prepared. Drink water or coffee. Do what makes you feel sharp.

Don’t forget what your cover letter said

Your recruiter might ask you questions about your cover letter. They may expand on it and ask you for more details related to your cover letter and what it said. Don’t forget what you put into the cover letter and be sure that you’re prepared to continue speaking to why you want the job.

Study common phone interview questions

Common phone interview questions tend to be information gathering questions. Be sure that you are prepared with what you think the recruiter might ask in the phone screening process and then practice your delivery of those answers. It should take you half a day at most to prepare for the interview. We have a guide that explains each phone interview question and a potential answer. This will help with your upcoming phone screen and expedite the process of preparing.

Be prepared for a second interview

A video interview or Zoom interview might be next in the process. Don’t hesitate to ask the interviewer what the next steps are in the process before the phone interview is concluded. Ask if there will be an on-site interview or video interview next? Or maybe another phone call with a team member. Be sure to ask this question as it shows you are very willing and determined to get employed by them.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


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