How to prepare and succeed in Phone Interviews

In today’s digital world, technology is playing a bigger role in the recruitment process and phone interviews are becoming the norm, especially amongst recruiters that have a large number of candidates to screen. Whilst you might think phone interviews sound like an easier option than a face-to-face interview, it’s worth being aware of the pros and cons.

Preparation is the key to any interview success, but there are a few additional things you need to make sure you prepare for when it comes to your phone interview.

Preparing for your interview

When you begin preparing for your phone interview, don’t forget that the basics still apply – be sure to do plenty of research and prepare plenty of questions and responses in advance. But remember, one of the pros of speaking on the phone is that the interviewer can’t actually see you, so don’t be afraid to have notes or prints outs in front of you. Browsing through your list of questions or responses while you’re chatting could help you to spark interesting conversations and show you know your stuff! It could also be useful to have your CV and the job description printed out for reference – just be sure to have all your documents organised to avoid fumbling through bits of paper and getting distracted.


Another positive part of a phone interview is getting to choose your location. Make sure you choose somewhere quiet and peaceful, and most importantly, somewhere you feel comfortable. Your surroundings can dictate how you feel and during your interview you’ll want to be relaxed and confident. Once you’ve selected your location, make sure you get rid of any distractions. If you’ve got noisy pets or children, make sure they aren’t nearby (or even better, ask someone else to take care of them for you). You don’t want anything interrupting you, or preventing your mind from being clear and focused. Turn off the TV and mute the radio.

When it comes to a phone interview, technology is going to play an important part and although we love our tech (most of the time), we all know that it can be temperamental! So before your interview make sure your phone has plenty of charge – maybe even keep a charger nearby just in case you’re on the phone longer than anticipated. And as much as you can control it, try to stick to an area with good signal, the last thing you want is your phone cutting out half way through.

Listen carefully and engage

The number one mistake candidates make during phone interviews is sounding bored or disengaged; you’ve got to make sure you sound interested and enthusiastic. It’s also important that you listen carefully to what your interviewer is saying so you don’t miss anything! It can be far too easy to talk over someone on the phone, especially if they are softly spoken. Make an effort to focus on what is being said and use it to build rapport.

Ask questions

It’s much trickier to judge reactions over the phone, which can make you feel in the dark. For example, if you have misunderstood or incorrectly answered a question in a face-to-face interview, you’ll quickly be able to tell through the body language or facial expressions of your interviewer. Sadly, you won’t see that over the phone. The easiest way ensure you’re on the right track is to ask questions. Try to clarify that you’ve answered the question correctly and gone into enough detail. Double checking that you’ve given your strongest answer could save you spending 5 minutes talking about something totally irrelevant!

End well

Just as the introduction to your interview was important, so is the end. Before you hang up, there are three things you should do:

  • Thank the interviewer – Just as you would in person, you should thank your interviewer for their time, and for the opportunity to speak with them.
  • Offer to send examples of work – It may be that you’ve spoken about certain projects that you’d like to enforce by providing key documents. Offering to send previous examples of work is also a good opportunity to get back in touch and remind the interviewer how great you are!
  • Ask for the next steps – Don’t hang up the phone until you know what the next step is. Find out what sort of time you’ll be waiting to hear back and how they intend to contact you.