How do you survive a Telephone Interview?


Why are telephone interviews so difficult?  They should be so easy – right!!!  Wrong.  That’s the first mistake everyone makes.  Now your first and only impression is your telephone manner.  If you treat this interview like it’s a “no brainer” then chances are you will not get through to the F2F interview.

Telephone interviews are done to find the candidate that can actually do what the job description asks for and can also do the duties/achievements on his/her resume.   In this day of professional resume writing services companies want to make sure that you have actually done the activities on your resume.

What can you do to make it through the telephone interview:

  • First of all treat the telephone interview as seriously as you would a F2F.  This means:
    • Get out of your pyjamas.  Dressing for a telephone interview will perk you up and make you feel more professional
    • Find a room to take your call in that is quiet and has no distractions (no radio, tv, children, pets)
    • If you are going to sit down, then make sure it has a comfortable chair that doesn’t allow you to slouch.
    • Try standing and walking around.  Your voice projects better when you are sitting straight or standing.  Talking with your hands will help add personality and animation to your voice as well.


  • The next important thing is to “Be Prepared”.  Again treat it like a F2F:
    • Study your resume – be able to expand on points in your resume when asked about specifics.
    • Study the job description.
    • Think of questions that the interviewer may ask re your resume or job description and practice them.
    • Research the company and make a list of questions, if you don’t have time to ask them all during this interview, you will have them ready for your F2F.
    • Use a cheat sheet.  No one can see you, this has it’s advantages.  You can have your resume right in front of you.  Write down questions they might ask with the answers beside it.
    • Script your “hello, good morning, thank you for taking the time to interview me”.  But remember it’s not a play so ad lib as well.
    • If possible try and find out who will be interviewing you and their position in the company.
    • Listen to the questions, if you aren’t sure then ask them to repeat it.  Pausing to collect your thoughts is ok.
    • Don’t get flustered if there are silences, the interviewer will be making notes.  Answer the question and then ask them if they would like more detail.
    • Use a headset.  This will allow your hands to be free to take notes and the reception is usually clearer for both you and the interviewer
    • Do a practice phone interview.  Make a list of questions and get a friend or family member to call you and practice, practice, practice.  
  • Little things can make a difference:
    • Don’t multi-task.  If your computer is open, have it open only to your resume or your cheat sheet.  Don’t be checking out your email or your baseball scores or the newest sale at Guess.
    • Turn off call-waiting on your phone and needless to say if you forgot don’t answer it or even look to see who it was.
    • Don’t eat or smoke while on the phone.  Sips of water are fine if you find it necessary.
  • Ask the interviewer for their email address so you can send a thank you note after the interview
Remember be enthusiastic, you applied for this position and you want this job.  You have to get those impressions through with your voice, the person can’t see your face.  So smile, laugh and tell them you are looking forward to the F2F.
Would love to hear from you about “What helped you with a successful telephone interview?” and/or “What simple mistake caused you to miss making it to the next step?”
 happyfacehanddrawn Good luck job hunting


Lynne Carlson started her career off in administration, moved to Cobol Programming and for the last 14 years worked in all things recruitment.  Absolutely loves social media and excited about all the new innovations appearing every day!


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