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7 Tips for Telephone Interview Success

  • Publish Date: Posted about 4 years ago
  • Author:by Julie Mordue

In many ways, a telephone interview can feel more daunting than meeting someone face-to-face. Not being able to see the person asking the questions, or being able to react to the room at large, can be intimidating. However, don’t let your nerves get the better of you. Just like with other interview formats, there are tips and tricks to performing your best!

Do your homework

Firstly, treat it like you would any other interview. Research the company, practice talking points, and make sure you’re familiar with the job spec and how your skills will fit the role.

Think about what you can bring to the work culture and how your values fit alongside theirs.

Browse the company’s social media for further insights and plan several questions to ask them at the end that ties into the role and their visions for the future. Preparing ahead of time will alleviate your nerves, just as it would in a face-to-face interview.

Get ready

Before the time of your interview, make sure you’re set up properly: your environment should be quiet, you should have everything you need by your side (like your CV and a notepad and pen) and it’s worth checking if there are any maintenance works scheduled in the area, just in case there’s interference with your phone signal.

Similarly, your phone should be full of charge and the volume turned high so you don’t have to adjust anything while on the call. Ask a friend to dial your number beforehand to check everything is in order. The number they’re ringing from may show up as unfamiliar or out of area so don’t assume it’s a spam caller and ignore it!

Don’t forget to account for pets – the last thing you need is your dog barking in the background.

Dress for the job you want

It might seem like the perfect opportunity to sit in your bedroom wearing pajamas, but a professional appearance will conjure a professional mindset. Dress for the job you want (and fits the workplace environment you’re applying for). If you treat it as the formal event it is, it will be much easier to keep a level head and answer questions effectively. By doing this, you’re also less likely to fidget and slouch – bad posture can affect your speaking.

Be a good listener

Being a good listener is crucial over the phone as the caller’s voice will reveal cues as to how and when to respond. Listen carefully to the person conducting the interview, though don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat a question if you miss anything.

The interviewer will steer the conversation in the direction they want so it’s important to let them lead and respond accordingly. As with any other style of interview, you will have the opportunity to ask your own questions towards the end.

The interviewer has a similar responsibility to listen to you, so make your words count. Don’t rush into answers; take a couple of seconds to gather your thoughts. They’ll expect moments of pause. Likewise, if the interviewer is speaking for a long time, show you’re present and listening by intermittently saying “I understand” “yes” “okay”.

Interruptions are easy to make over the phone without visual cues, so make sure they’re finished speaking before diving in.

Strike the right tone

For your part, speak clearly. Take a sip of water before the phone rings to clear your throat. It’s easy to tell if someone is engaged or bored, so adopt an upbeat, energetic tone. Standing up can help, as well as walking around the room. Make hand gestures if needed – no one is there to see you! The upside of a phone interview is being able to do whatever makes you feel comfortable without being distracting.

End on a good note

After enthusiastically asking your own questions and thanking the interviewer for their time, inquire when you can expect to hear back from them if it isn’t volunteered. Telephone interviews are usually the stepping stone to a face-to-face interview, so leave the interviewer with a good impression and restate your enthusiasm for the role.


After hanging up, make sure the call has ended properly before letting out a sigh of relief!

While it's still fresh in your mind, write notes on your experience: the questions asked, how you answered, what you felt went well and what could be improved upon. Though the goal is to proceed further in the recruitment process, every interview is a useful​