Telephone Interview Tips

The purpose of a phone interview is NOT to get a job offer or to share everything you have accomplished over the last 20 years – it is to share just enough good information to get an invitation to interview in person. That’s it.

  • Companies do not make job offers from a phone interview.
  • You have no tough decision to make until you have a job offer.

Companies are evaluating you on 5 things

  • How skilled you are
  • If what you have accomplished is comparable to what they need accomplished
  • How you would fit in with the team
  • Your level of drive, initiative and motivation
  • Your upside potential
Talk only for 2-3 minutes for any question. Any more than that and their attention will start to stray. Talk in paragraphs rather than short sentences. Don’t make the interviewer work too hard to draw information out of you.

Give specific examples with metrics and results (can include timeframe, team involved, obstacles overcome, etc.) Candidates are not judged on how well they did their jobs, they are judged on how well they DESCRIBE how they did their jobs.

Often times the person who talked the most thought the interview went the best. So do not dominate the call. The thing to remember on phone interviews is that you cannot read your audience. You are unable to tell how engaged the hiring authority is. Remember, this is not the time to try to get 20 years of experience into a 45 minute interview.

Never ask “what’s in it for me” questions. But do have some insightful questions prepared. Candidates are judges by the quality of questions. Great questions can often overcome weaknesses in other areas. The best questions focus on the impact and challenges of the role, and the relationship of the job to the business. Questions that show you have done some preliminary research and have reflected on this opportunity are ideal.

Sample questions:

I read you just launched a new product line last month aimed at a higher end market. How would this role be involved with that new product line? This type of question illustrates that you have taken time to research the company and/or industry.

Is there anything else I can answer for you to let you know I can do this job? This question flushes out concerns/objections that the interviewer may haveabout you.

What are your expectations of me if you bring me on your team in the next 30, 60 or 90 days? This question helps set up some of their expectations of you in the next few months. Your answer may help strengthen your case.

Have your resume in front of you and have gone over the specifics prior to the call to help you recall information and details. Extend out your bullet points and make notes on your resume if you need to elaborate.

Try standing up – you will be less nervous and project better.

Enthusiasm and passion are big selling points.

Look up the interviewer’s background on LinkedIn, perhaps there are some commonalities you have with them.

Find somewhere quiet, without distractions to have your call.

Smile when you speak –it actually conveys over the phone!