How to Nail an Over-the-Phone Interview


By Staff Writer Published on August 21, 2017

You’re a little anxious as the day has finally arrived—it’s the day of your interview with that company you’ve always wanted to work for. Or maybe the first company that’s called you back to request an interview in a while. Whatever the reason, this is an exciting day.

For an in-person meeting, it’s likely you’ve bought yourself a new outfit, or maybe just a new tie, or got your nails done. At any rate, you’re looking polished, professional, and pulled together, ready to nail this interview. But what if instead of an in-person interview, you’ve been asked to do one over the phone instead? Completely different ball game, completely different rules, right? Wrong.

While there will be differences in the way you’ll handle yourself during an over-the-phone interview, a few things remain the same—you need to be prepared, you need to be professional, and you need to look the part.

Here are 5 things you can do to be sure you know just how to prepare for a phone interview.

1. Be Prepared

As with any interview, it is imperative that you do your research ahead of time in addition to preparing yourself for the typical phone interview questions. Think of an over-the-phone interview like an open book test—you need to know your stuff, but you also have the luxury of using a cheat sheet or two. Google the company you’re set to interview with and find out everything you can about them—the type of people they employ and the way they run their business. Make sure you are well-versed in their product and business practices.

With so much competition in the job market, you can’t expect to call in and get by on your sparkling personality or (especially over the phone) good looks alone. Write down a few key points to make during the interview and maybe a few suggestions or ways you could better their company. The key is to be prepared for anything.

2. Look the Part

While it is possible to do an over-the-phone interview in your pajamas, it’s highly discouraged. There is something about being dressed up and looking nice that makes people feel more professional, and feeling the part will help you sound the part, which is very important when that’s about all the interviewer will have to go on. So iron your suit, buy that new dress, and make sure your look your best, just the same as you would for an in-person interview, and watch your confidence and professionalism skyrocket.

3. Your Greeting Says a Lot

So you’ve done your research, you look like you belong on Wall Street, and you’re awaiting the interviewer’s phone call. Now what? The way you answer your phone will be the first impression the interviewer has of you, so make it count.

Practice what you intend to say, but make sure it doesn’t sound rehearsed. Stumbling and stuttering through your first exchange won’t bode well for you. A solid “Good morning, this is Dave,” sounds a lot better than a “hi,” “hello,” or “hey what’s up.”

4. Keep It Professional

Bringing us to the next point: keep it professional. This obviously means referring to the interviewer in a polite and professional manner—a simple sir or ma’am are fitting for this occasion. No swearing, no eating during your interview, no playing games, browsing Facebook, or texting with friends. Give the interviewer the same courtesy you’d give them if you were face-to-face. Offering them your full attention is essential to phone interview etiquette.

Schedule your interview when you have an open block of time rather than sandwiching it between appointments or classes during your busy day. And make sure you find a quiet place to do it—few things are less professional than a baby crying in the background, a dog barking, or the television blaring from another room.

5. Don't Forget to Smile

If you haven’t paid attention before, try saying a sentence with a straight face, then do it again with a smile. Huge difference, right? Since you are at a disadvantage in regards to nonverbal communication because you’re not sitting in the same room together with the interviewer, sounding both friendly and professional are a must. Smile through your interview—the interviewer will notice.

Having a hard time remembering to smile? Set up a mirror across from where you’ll take the call, and watch yourself during the interview to make sure you keep that friendly smile on your face.

Get Ready Now

According to the results of a 2013 survey done by OfficeTeam, out of 515 human resource managers, 57 percent said over-the-phone interviews happen “very often.” As the job market continues to expand across the globe and more college graduates continue entering it, you can expect to see an increase in this percentage, whether for distance purposes, or as a way of weeding through candidates to ensure only the best are interviewed in person, which makes nailing this interview even more important. With the help of these simple phone interview tips, you can expect to know just how to ace a phone interview.

Are you ready to earn your degree and help further your career? Learn more about our degree programs and get started on your way to a brighter future.