Top tips for acing your telephone interview

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” – Karim Seddiki

There is truly nothing more rewarding than getting a response from an application you sent for your dream job asking you to hop on the phone for an interview. Not only did you do a lot of hard work, including editing your resume, writing a cover letter, putting together writing samples, filling out endless forms, its paid off, now you are finally going to meet the person or people hiring for your role or, uh, well, hear their voice at the least.

Now, the goal of a phone interview is an invitation to come to the employer’s location for an in-person meeting. Phone interviews are typically called “phone screens” because employers are still screening other candidates shortlisted in the previous round. These interviews are short, usually less than 30 minutes and may be as brief as 10 minutes. Three to six of those candidates who make it through the phone screen will be invited to participate in the next round of interviews.

In the recent era of technological developments, an increasing proportion of organisations includes telephone interviews in their recruitment process as part of their efforts to find the right candidates as quickly as possible. While the questions you will be asked during a phone interview will likely be similar to those put to you during a face-to-face interview, you will lose out on the benefits of body language and non-verbal cues to help get your message across which means you might have to work a bit harder to stand out from other applicants.

Before you go from ecstatic to nervous wondering how in the hell you are going to stand out from your competitors and knock the interviewer’s socks off, we have compiled some of the basic yet vital phone interview tips you could ever need to get yourself prepared and we hope you will get to meet the hiring manager in person in the next round.


Do your research

Treat it like any other interview and prepare, prepare, and prepare. Too many people make the mistake of winging a phone interview thinking it is not that important or they can handle it with no problem, when, in reality, they find themselves stumbling over their answers and messing up their chances.

First, give the job description a thorough look to understand exactly what role you’re interviewing for and what the interviewer may ask you about. Then, do some digging into the company. Browse their website, Google them to gather some recent news updates, read their employee testimonials on other sites like Glassdoor, and scroll through their social media. Get a sense of not just what your specific role would entail and what the team does, but the company’s history, mission, and overall vibe. This will help you in crafting tailored interview answers and asking thoughtful questions.


Get clear on the details

You need to be clear on details such as the time of your phone interview and in what time zone (if applicable), who exactly you’ll be speaking with and their role if there’s more than one person. Figure out what order you’ll be speaking to them in, what number they’ll be calling from, what number they’ll be calling you at if you have two or more phone lines and any other contact information like their email or the company’s mainline you may need if the call drops. There is nothing wrong with getting some clarity on something that affects both of your schedules.


Practice your answers and talking on the phone

Talking on the phone isn’t as easy as it seems. As with an in-person interview, practising can be helpful. Not only will this allow you rehearse answers to common phone interview questions, but it will also make you realise if you have a lot of verbal ticks, fail to enunciate, or speak too fast or too slow.

For practice, have a friend or family member conduct a mock interview and record it so you can see how you sound over the phone. Once you have a recording, you’ll be able to hear your “ums” and “uhs” and “okays” so you can practice reducing them from your conversational speech. Listening to the recording will also help you pinpoint answers that you can improve.


After all, if you were able to believe in Santa Claus for like 8 years, you can believe in yourself for like 5 minutes. Once you get the ball rolling, the rest of the path will be easy.


ABL Recruitment team