How To Ace The Phone Interview

You’ve spruced up your resume, inundated job sites with your awesomeness and now you’re getting some interest. A hiring manager is reaching out to set up a phone interview.

In a world where job searches are now almost 100% electronic,  the phone interview is a great way for hiring managers to do an initial screening before moving on to in-person interviews.

A hiring manager is more likely to contact you for a phone interview when there’s a large candidate pool or an in-person meeting is impossible because of distance.

Remember – when you’re scheduled for a phone interview – you are probably one of many, many candidates. With any hiring situation, you want to promote your strengths and understand the pros and cons of this interview dynamic to put yourself in the lead.

Dress The Part

Why? The hiring manager can’t see me!

That’s why all the other candidates are in sweatpants. Here’s where you create an advantage for yourself. Dress as if you are going to an interview.

When we dress more formally, we can exude a more professional demeanor. It’s also hard to psych yourself up for a job interview if you’re sitting in fat pants.

This can also come in handy if you’re asked to attend a video or in-person interview on that same day. You’ll be ready to go.

Use Visual Cues

Here’s where you can bust out highlighted resume skills, interview guides, talking points and other tools. This is where you can capitalize on the fact that they can’t see you.

When a hiring manager asks you what you know about the company, you can have the website right in front of you. Your strengths – key successes you can take from your resume.

Remember open book tests in school? Everybody used the book to get the answers. This is the same idea. Make sure if you get stuck you have cues in front of you.


Remember, a phone interview is an interview, not a conversation.

Go ahead, wing it! But hiring managers will know.

This is why so many candidates quickly get crossed off the list. Vague or rambling answers and lousy phone etiquette make you sound unprepared. There’s no quicker way to offend a hiring manager and get booted out of the race.

Recruit a friend for some mock interviews over the phone. Mock interviews are so important – this is a crucial way to assess how you present yourself and to make changes.

Silence Please

Make sure you have a quiet, comfortable space to do your phone interview. This means no cars, no stores, no coffee shops.

If you have issues with your cell phone connection, use a landline or VOIP line instead. Make sure your connection is not an issue. You want the conversation to be uninterrupted.

This is another way to present yourself as a serious candidate. If you’re doing your interview while wandering through a noisy WalMart, it says, “I don’t care”.


The following things are unacceptable during a phone interview:

  • Eating
  • Swearing
  • Using slang
  • Talking to someone else
  • Typing
  • Not giving advance notice to cancel/reschedule or not showing up
  • Not knowing the hiring manager’s name


Set yourself apart from other candidates by taking the phone interview step seriously. Dress the part, find a good space and practice your answers. If you’re the right person for the job, you’ll find yourself moving on to the next phase. Good luck!

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