5 Secrets for a Great Phone Interview

Telephone interviews are popular for a first screening interview. Many companies choose this method for first interviews for prospective interns. Arranging for candidates to fly or drive in is expensive and can be time-consuming for everyone. This first meeting might be with a company recruiter. It can last between 20 minutes to an hour. Your success at this critical juncture will often earn you either a phone or live meeting with the hiring manager.

5 Secrets for a Great Phone Interview

Make the Right Choice

If the company asks if you wish to meet in person or have a phone interview, always choose the live meeting.  Typically you don’t have a choice, but sometimes you will. Being face to face always puts you in the best position to impress and connect with the interviewer. It is usually always worth taking the extra time and effort to meet in person, especially if the employer is within driving or commuting distance.

Advance Preparation

Do the same preparation for a phone interview that you would for a normal one. Study the company; know their products and capabilities. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to find out what they are communicating socially. Look up your interviewer’s profile on LinkedIn to find out things about them that you may have in common. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile before your meeting too. It makes sense to practice answering some basic interview questions. Practice the answer to “walk me through your resume” so you are succinct and hit on the key points. Be ready to explain why you want the job and why you would succeed.

Right Environment

Make sure you set the appointment for a time when you can talk without interruption or background noise. Preferably you are in a quiet room on a landline, and not walking back from lecture surrounded by classmates. Always be ready to be flexible too. Your interviewer might request a Skype or video interview or a change in time at the last minute so be ready for anything.

Stand and Smile

Stand up during the interview because your voice will project much stronger than if you are sitting down. Another recommendation is to smile while on the phone. Hiring managers want enthusiastic and optimistic employees and interns. Standing and smiling is a great little trick to make you sound even more strong and positive.


You don’t want to simply answer each question without some active engagement.  If you need to think of an answer to the recruiter’s question, ask the interviewer to rephrase or repeat. Engagement also means active listening so take notes about important things you learn. Don’t interrupt, but also try to mention something you have learned about the company that you find interesting or learned on social media. Ask questions naturally during the interview if it feels appropriate. You also want to save some great questions for the end. Most interviewers will ask “Do you have any other questions” at the close of the meeting so you need to be prepared. One of your final questions will be “What are the next steps?”

Telephone interviews are critically important for job seekers to master.  What are your secrets to success with a phone interview?

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Sandra Long

Sandra Long is the author of the bestselling book LinkedIn For Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide. She is also the managing partner of Post Road Consulting LLC. Sandra and her team work with corporations, universities, and individuals to drive successful sales, career, and talent acquisition results.

Reader Interactions


  1. Erika Kilborn says

    Watch yourself in a mirror during the interview. Your facial expression is reflected in your voice. It’s an old customer service trick but it works.

  2. Sandra Long says

    Hi Erika,

    Thanks and I love your customer service trick! Its amazing how body language can be “heard” on the other end of the phone.

    Thanks for your comment, Sandra

  3. Mihaela Zhekova says

    Hi Sandra, I would like to connect with you on LinkedIn but I can’t as I don’t have your email. Please connect with me if interested.

    Thank you.

    Kind regards
    Mihaela Zhekova

  4. Lisa - Good.Co says

    Great tips! My tip is to never agree to an impromptu phone interview. One time, I was putting in a follow-up call to a company, and they asked if that moment was a good one for a preliminary phone interview. What I should have said was no, but that I was free at a later time – even first thing the following morning would have been better. But because I wanted to show enthusiasm for the position, I foolishly agreed to participate in an interview that I was 100% unprepared to have. Perhaps it’s needless to say, but I did not participate any further in their recruitment process. It wasn’t the worst interview I’ve ever had, though it certainly makes it into the top 5.
    Thanks for the handy hints. Cheers! Lisa Chatroop, Good.Co

  5. Sandra Long says

    HI Mihaela and Lisa, Thanks so much for your comments !

    Mihaela – I will try to find you on LinkedIn, thanks for the request.

    Lisa- I love your story because I think we can all relate to it. I am really glad you added this pointer and story for the readers!

    Happy Holidays to you both, Sandra


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