Ace Your Next Phone Interview with These 6 Tips

Have a phone interview scheduled? Wonderful! Hiring managers use phone interviews to determine if a shortlist of candidates are as promising as their resumes. Reaching this stage means you’re off to a great start already.

Your goal now is the same as any other interview: Make a good impression and convince the hiring manager that you will bring useful work and interpersonal skills to their company. However, phone interviews have special considerations you’ll need to be conscious of in order to ace them.

ace phone interview

1. Prep phone tools

Gather your phone-interview tools the night before. At the minimum, you should grab a pen, notepad, phone charger, headphones, and a water bottle.

Yes, you charge the phone every night, but what if tomorrow’s phone usage is unusually taxing on the battery? Having a charger means you don’t have to worry. Headphones are handy in case your neighbor has a sudden impulse to mow his lawn, and the water can stop a throat tickle from evolving into a coughing fit.

Of course, you should consider your situation and include whatever additional tools you’ll need to succeed.

2. Wear a professional outfit

You can do a phone interview in your sleepwear, and no one would know. Dressing the part, however, puts you in a business-oriented mindset. A nice outfit makes you feel confident and professional, qualities that will come across in your voice.

Bonus mind hack: smile. The act of smiling infuses your attitude with positivity. The hiring manager won’t see your smile, but like your outfit, it will be present in your demeanor.

3. Find a perfect location

What makes a location perfect? First, it has either good reception or a solid internet connection. Second, it’s calm enough for you to give low-volume calls your full attention. Finally, you can control potential distractions to the greatest possible degree.

In other words, it’s a good idea to avoid public places. You may get your best remote work done at Starbucks, but the white noise risks drowning out the conversation, and distractions may cause you to miss important information.

4. Create a cheat sheet

Your cheat sheet should include whatever information you need to ace the interview. We recommend skills and keywords from the job posting, primers to help answer common interview questions, and any self-affirmations you need.

Even if you never glance at the cheat sheet during the call, the act of writing it will etch the information into your mind, helping to bolster your confidence.

Don’t have time to create a cheat sheet? Print out your resume and the job posting. Then highlight key words and accomplishments you want to insert into your answers.

5. Practice your delivery

People rely heavily on facial expressions and body language to communicate, but this is a phone interview. Your voice is your only tool.

Practice your answers aloud to get a feel for your speed and tone. Your delivery should relay your enthusiasm and professionalism but also your personality. Pay extra attention to difficult words, phrases you trip over, and potentially awkward situations.

You can practice with friends and family members, or use a recording device to hear yourself speak.

6. Listen actively

When it’s the hiring manager’s turn to talk, be an active listener. You won’t have eye contact, so signal your participation by using phrases of acknowledgment, such as “okay” and “I understand.” When appropriate, paraphrase key information and ask probing questions.

Do. Not. Multitask. Your focus should be exclusively on the conversation, not trying to answer that surprise text. Be extra diligent and set your devices to Do Not Disturb mode.

Time to ace this phone interview

Beyond these six tips, traditional face-to-face interview prep rules still apply. Research the company, look up the hiring manager on LinkedIn, prepare after-interview questions, have salary preferences ready, and get plenty of sleep.

Don’t forget: the hiring manager selected your resume because it was one of the best. The fact that she wants to speak with you proves your awesomeness. Follow these tips, take a breath, and ace this phone interview!

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