How To Nail a Phone Interview

person drinking coffee and answering the phone

Interviews can be intimidating. You walk into an unknown office to talk to someone you’ve never met about a job you don’t have all while being compared to other candidates who may or may not be more qualified. It can get pretty stressful.

A phone interview can be tough too because you don’t even get the benefit of body language.  You can’t find something in the room to center small talk around and it’s hard to create a rapport with the interviewer. It’s just your voice and theirs, that’s it.

This article will help make the phone interview process easier. Here you’ll learn more about hiring questions as well as how to answer phone interview questions.

Prepare For The Phone Interview

One of the best things to do before an interview over the phone is to do your homework. Learn everything you can that might come up in the interview. It’s a phone interview so you can have pre-written notes and it won’t look awkward or strange. Here’s what you should be researching before the interview.

Job Responsibilities

The job description should be the starting point of your research. If they mention specific programs that you’re unfamiliar with, look to Lynda.com or YouTube to learn more about them. Make sure you’re as familiar as possible with every point mentioned in the job description. The job description is a great starting point but there is so much more one can learn to get a step up on the competition.

Resources like the Occupational Outlook Handbook are also great places to look for more information about a job. The OOH goes into further detail about responsibilities, qualifications and growth rates. It also breaks down pay information across the US and by state.

Company and Culture

You’ll want to learn about the company. Is it growing or shrinking? What are their future plans? Have they recently put out any press releases? What is their competition doing? Who’s doing what better? These questions will give you a good feel for the company and will help you feel more comfortable talking about the position as well.

You should also learn about company culture. Is it laid back or more traditional? Where does your job fit in the the overall company structure? How does the company market itself and its employers and which of your traits best match those characteristics? Half of a job interview is about convincing the interviewer that you’re able to do the job. The other half is about showing the interviewer that people will like working with you.

Study Hiring Questions

When it comes to hiring questions, an interviewer could ask you a near infinite number of questions. You can’t prepare for every question but you can prepare enough to tackle the interview. Start by looking at the job responsibilities in the ad. Write a list of possible questions related to the job responsibilities and write down some talking points for each question. Remember, they can’t see you and they can’t they see your notes either.

Then write down some talking points about how your skills and interests benefit the employer and how the job benefits you. Most people don’t think of this but a job is a two-way street and you’ll stick out more to the interviewer if you can explain how the job is mutually beneficial for both of you. This will show them why you’re not just good for the job but good for the company. An employee who wants a job for reasons aside from money is a better investment than one who just wants a paycheck.

How To Answer Phone Interview Questions

Once you’ve done your research and you have your talking points written down and practiced it’s time for the actual interview. The question is, what’s the best way to answer hiring questions? Here are some suggestions for how to answer phone interview questions.

  • Don’t be afraid of silence if you need a minute to form an answer.
  • Get comfortable. This will help you relax.
  • Speak slowly. Quick, nervous speech leads to more stammering and mumbling.
  • Take it easy. If they didn’t think you were qualified they wouldn’t interview you.
  • Practice pauses before the interview. Each time you want to say “um” stay silent instead.
  • Familiarize yourself with your notes. They will help you stay on message.


Interviews are rarely easy for anyone but with a little research, some notes and a little practice, phone interviews can be manageable for anyone. Don’t panic, you applied to the job because you thought you could get it and they set up an interview because they thought you could do the job. Just focus on being the best you possible in the interview.

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