How to Ace Telephone Interviews

The telephone interview has been a long-time staple for employers looking to pre-qualify potential employees for more in-depth, face-to-face follow-up interviews. These interviews generally averaged about 10 minutes long, and were comprised of a basic, straight-forward line of questioning. However, it is becoming a common practice for employers to conduct thorough and lengthy interviews over the phone - sometimes lasting over an hour long. This type of phone interview saves employers time and money, but also requires much more information from the interviewee, and justifies a more intensive preparation protocol than the previous, shorter interview model did. If you have an upcoming interview over the phone, you may follow these guidelines for how to ace telephone interviews.


  1. Image titled Ace Telephone Interviews Step 1
    Schedule an appropriate time for your interview. Make sure you can dedicate a block of time in which you will be alone, in a quiet environment, with no interruptions. If you are caught off-guard by an unexpected telephone call, reschedule the interview for a more optimal time, citing a schedule conflict.
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    Prepare for your telephone interview as you would a face to face interview.
    • Research the company. You should know as much as possible about the company you are interviewing for, as well as the person who will be conducting your phone interview.
    • Practice your answers for commonly asked interview questions. Interviewers typically ask about your experience, qualifications, work ethic and availability. Additionally, you can find lists of occupation-specific interview questions online. For example, telephone interviews for phlebotomy might include questions about venipuncture procedure and healthcare law.
    • Before you start your interview, be sure to have a pen and paper, calendar, your resume and cover letter, references, company research and a list of questions you want to ask the interviewer.
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    Begin by verifying the interviewer's information. Write down the name of the person who will be administering the phone interview so that you can refer to it throughout the conversation. Also, write down the interviewer's telephone number in case you are disconnected.
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    Answer effectively. When you are in a telephone interview, you cannot read the interviewer's non-verbal communication and, therefore, gauging the appropriateness of your answers can be difficult. Adhere to the following guidelines when answering questions during a phone interview.
    • Repeat the question back to the interviewer to show that you are paying attention, and that you understood what was asked of you. Additionally, this technique gives you some time to formulate an answer.
    • Reply with a question. You don't want to do this for every question, but you should implore about the meaning of important questions that are main qualifiers for the position before you answer. For example, when an employer asks about your experience, you may reply by saying, "I have a wide range of experience that I feel qualifies me for this position. Could you please give me a specific idea of the type of experience you are looking for?" That way, you can tailor your answer in a way that either meets the employer's standards, or that compensates for an incomplete match.
    • Avoid simple yes or no answers. Elaborate on whatever positive points you can make in response to the question.
    • Stay on subject. Answer the exact question that was directed at you. Do not go off on long-winded tangents.
    • Allow the interviewer to ask the question completely before attempting a response. Take time to listen and do not interrupt.
    • If you need time to think, tell the interviewer so. Be conscious of unexplained dead-air and the effect it has on the person at the other end of the telephone line.
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    Observe standard telephone etiquette. Do not chew gum, eat, drink or smoke, and avoid common language fillers like "uh" and "um." Speak directly into the phone so that the interviewer can hear you clearly, and never put an interviewer on hold to answer another call.
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    Stand up and smile during telephone interviews. Holding yourself upright makes your voice carry, and smiling comes through in your tone.
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    Close the interview by reaffirming your interest in the position and requesting a follow-up interview in person.


  • Avoid discussing salary requirements over the telephone, as the subject of salary is more appropriately addressed in person, at the end of the interview cycle.

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Categories: Interview Skills