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How to Ace Your Telephone Interview

How to Ace Your Telephone Interview

How to Ace Your Telephone Interview

So, You have been Scheduled for a Telephone Interview.

The telephone interview, also referred to as the “phone screen,” is one of the key steps in the job interview process. Employers use this time to speak with you over the phone to get to know you. If you nail this stage of the process, you’ll move on to the in-person interview, which gets you closer to landing the job.

Why has the telephone interview become so important? According to Forbes, employers can use a quick phone screen to sort through job candidates quickly without having to worry about the time and expense associated with an in-person interview. In other words, they can narrow down their search for the best candidates before they invite people in for a longer face-to-face meeting.

So how do you make the best first impression over the phone to get that all-important in-person interview?

Prepare! Do Your Research and Have Questions Ready

Once you learn about your telephone interview, if you have not already, it is time to thoroughly research the company. Review the company’s website and do an internet search on the company. This gives you the opportunity to learn more about the organization and formulate some questions you can ask. These questions will prove that you are truly interested in what the company is all about and how you can contribute to its continued success.

Because job descriptions tend to be vague, use your telephone interview as an opportunity to ask your prepared questions and learn as much as you can. This will help you determine if the job is really right for you.

Have Helpful Materials With You

Your phone screen should take place in a quiet and private area where you can focus without being distracted or interrupted. And the great thing about a telephone interview is that you can have a variety of helpful materials in front of you to assist you with answering questions and making the right comments.

Make sure you have your resume, including a list of accomplishments you want to share, and the application you filled out for the position. Have all of the notes you have made about the company and a list of questions you want to ask. Also, make a cheat sheet with the answers to some of the most commonly asked interview questions. This will make it easier for you to say the right things without, embarrassingly, forgetting important details.

Speak in a Professional and Polite Manner

No matter who you are speaking with—whether it’s the company president or an assistant—make sure you are always kind, polite, and professional. If you need to pause the conversation to write something down, say something like, “Please excuse me, I would like to jot that down.” Never interrupt the interviewer, and avoid giving long-winded answers. In our fast paced society, any response longer than 60 seconds is usually too long. Always end the conversation by thanking the interviewer for his or her time and reaffirming that you are enthusiastic about the position and hope to hear from them again soon.

Remember that your telephone interview is the first impression that you are making on an employer. Treat it as though it is an in-person interview to improve your odds of actually being called in for one.

We hope you found these tips useful and that they will get you closer to finding that next career opportunity! Check back to our blog page regularly to discover more tips for enhancing your career search. I encourage you to provide your comments in the “Leave a Reply” box below.

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Sources & Related Articles:

1. McLeod, Lea. (2014, March 19). “5 Keys to Nailing the Phone Screen” [Web log post]. Retrieved September 28, 2014, from

2. Pogol, Gina. “Job-Search Tips: How to Nail a Phone Interview” [Web log post]. Retrieved September 28, 2014, from

3. Stock, Judith A. (2013, October 23). “6 Steps To Nailing A Job Interview … Over The Phone” [Web log post]. Retrieved September 28, 2014, from

Pam Copeland

Executive Editor - Career Services

Pam Copeland

Pam Howard Copeland is a seasoned recruiting professional with substantial experience and finesse in internet marketing and dealing with candidates and clients. Pam earned her B.A. in Communications from Georgia Southern University. She began working in the staffing/recruiting industry in 1989 and has a rare and unique perspective on the technical staffing industry. She has managed both sides of the hiring table and has experienced the challenges that come with each. She co-owns two companies focused in different aspects of career search.
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