How to Handle a Phone Interview


Table of Contents

So you’ve just been invited to a phone interview? Bravo!

Do not, however, be concerned if the prospect of making an impression from afar makes you nervous. We’ve got you covered!

Learn how to sound confident over the phone, how to persuade the recruiter with your answers, how to handle difficult questions, and a list of common telephone interview questions to help you prepare.

So, let’s get you ready for the phone call right away!

1. Double-check interview information

Check the time and date of the call if the interview was scheduled ahead of time.

Check the time difference and time zone if the call is from outside the country.

Know your interviewer’s full name and address them formally.

2. Conduct research

Prepare for a telephonic interview just as you would for a face-to-face interview.

Examine the job description and the company’s history.

Expect questions about the job profile you applied for as well as key areas mentioned in the job description.

Furthermore, knowing the nature and accomplishments of the company will add value to the conversation.

3. Keep your resume on hand

‘Tell me about yourself,’ is usually the first question asked during a phone interview.

Keep your resume handy as you tell the recruiter about yourself.

Having the information will ensure that you do not overlook any important points or achievements relevant to your profile.

4. Maintain a cheat sheet

Making an impression over the phone may appear to some to be a daunting task, but it has its advantages.

The main advantage is that you can’t see each other.

Make notes on anticipated questions ahead of time, practice them, and keep them in front of you during the interview.

Believe us when we say that you will be able to speak with much more confidence.

You can organize your notes using apps such as Evernote, OneNote, Simplenote, Notion or Google Keep.

5. Practice

Request that a family member or friend conduct a simulated telephone interview with you.

Record the conversation and make a list of the things you can do better.

Practicing will allow you to rehearse your responses and assess your tone.

Apps like Automatic Call Recorder and Call Recorder Free allow you to record a call that is currently in progress or one that is about to be made.

6. Dealing with difficult questions

When confronted with a difficult question, do not panic. Take a few moments to reflect.

You can also use your laptop to quickly search for pointers to help you construct an answer.

However, if you are unable to think of anything worthwhile to say, politely inform the interviewer.

Concentrate on the next question without thinking about the previous one.

7. Ask questions

Always ask the interviewer at least a couple of questions.

The questions should be about the job profile, company culture, and so on.

It will demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role and the company.

You can also take the initiative at the end of the conversation to ask the recruiter about the best time for a follow-up.

However, avoid sounding desperate. ‘So, when can I expect to hear from you again?’ you might ask.

8. Disable call waiting

This is an important point that many people overlook. A call waiting can easily become a source of distraction and disrupt the flow of your conversation.

When getting ready to take the interview call, remember to turn off call waiting on your phone.

9. Disable any other potential interruptions

This is an obvious choice. With sounds playing in the background, it is impossible to have a smooth conversation.

Check that your television, music, and other devices are turned off. Locate a quiet and comfortable location free of potential interruptions.

If you live with family or friends, let them know about the call ahead of time so that no one interrupts you and you can maintain silence.

10. Be a good listener

Listening ability, in addition to speaking ability, is an important component of the telephonic interview process.

Avoid interrupting the recruiter and wait for him to finish his thought or question before speaking.

So pay close attention, understand the questions thoroughly, and provide concise responses.

11. Pen and paper

Don’t miss out on important information about the company or the job role that the recruiter mentions.

Prepare a pen and paper to jot down all of the important points discussed during the interview.

12. Be polite and professional

Maintain a pleasant tone throughout the interview, as most interviewers are experienced and can easily assess the candidate’s level of comfort.

When addressing the recruiter, use professional language. Use Mr. or Ms. followed by the individual’s last name.

If you don’t know the person’s last name, you can address him or her as sir or ma’am. Make an effort to be courteous and polite.

13. Remain calm and positive

Did you know that your tone of voice reflects your mood? Even if you are not, try to appear relaxed and confident during the interview.

Have you ever heard the expression “fake it until you make it”?

Speak slowly and clearly so that the interviewer understands what you’re saying.

Sitting in a comfortable position, free of distractions, will allow you to concentrate on the conversation.

14. Please, smile

Remember to keep a smile on your face. Yes, we understand that the recruiter cannot see you, but it will come through in your voice and will undoubtedly make you feel confident and positive about yourself.

15. Express gratitude to the interviewer

Remember to thank the interviewer for his time and consideration before hanging up.

Do not be afraid to express your enthusiasm for the job and your interest in the company.

Give your best effort during the phone interview because it will pave the way for additional interactions with the recruiter.

Things to avoid during a phone interview

  • Unless there is an emergency, do not reschedule the call a few hours before the scheduled time. It will create a negative impression.
  • You must not eat, drink, or smoke during the interview. Before beginning the interview, have a bite to eat and a glass of water.
  • If you’re using a laptop during the call, keep the sound of your typing to a minimum. Do not type hastily.
  • Unless specifically requested, do not make personal comments.
  • When speaking with the interviewer, avoid using unnecessary everyday words and phrases such as ‘you know,’ ‘umm,’ ‘let’s see,’ and ‘whatever.’
  • You should not conduct an interview while driving or on the road. If you are unavailable, inform the recruiter and politely request the next available time for the call.
  • Do not put the interviewer on hold. This will give the impression that you are unconcerned about the interview.
  • Finally, don’t be concerned. Maintain your cool and carry on!

Questions and answers for common phone interviews

To help you prepare, here are some common phone interview questions and answers.

  • How do you respond to the question “Describe yourself?”
  • How to Respond to “What Motivates You?”
  • How do you respond to the question, “What is your greatest failure in life?”
  • How do you respond to the question, “Why do you want this job?”
  • How to Respond to “What are your Hobbies?”
  • How to Respond to “Why Should I Hire You?”
  • How do you respond to the question, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
  • How to Respond “What are your short and long-term objectives?”
  • How to Respond “”Where do you see yourself in five years?”
  • How to Respond “”In One Word, Describe Yourself”

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