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How to Make a Great Impression on a Phone Interview (With Examples!)

Updated: May 1, 2019

phone interview in progress

Phone interviews can be just as stressful as an in-person interview – especially if you’ve never done one before. Trying to squeeze your experience and personality into a brief phone call with someone you’ve never met is no easy task.

But there are actually a ton of little things you can do – before, during, and after the phone interview – to make a great impression. And most importantly, get you to the next stage! We’ve provided tips for each part of the process, plus some examples you can swipe for your next interview. Let’s get started.

How should I respond to the email asking for a phone interview?

As minor as this little communication might seem, how you reply will give the hiring manager their first clue about your professionalism and organizational skills. A few tips:

  • Make sure you reply promptly – try within the hour.

  • Thank them for considering you as a candidate.

  • Show enthusiasm for the opportunity.

  • Avoid typos like the plague.

  • Provide your contact information, even if they already have it.

  • Be super clear about your availability.

Here’s an email example:

Hi Scott,

Thanks for contacting me. I would be happy to speak with you about the Web Developer role and learn more about Company Inc. I’ve listed my availability for the next two days below. I can be reached at 555-555-5555. Let me know what time works for you and I’ll add to my calendar.

Tuesday 1/23 (Between 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm)

Wednesday 1/24 (Between 9:00 am and 12:00 pm)

Looking forward to our conversation!

Regards, John

How should I prepare for the phone interview?

Even though this is a screening call to see if you’d be a viable candidate, you still want to put in the research. Especially if this is a job you really want – since it will pay off in the next stage of interviewing. Here’s your research to do list:

  • Compare the job description against your experience and skills

  • Review the company website and social media

  • Google the company for trends and news

  • Look up the interviewer (and anyone else you’ve interacted with) on LinkedIn

Telephone interviews are typically short, perhaps 10-15 minutes. Questions usually focus on how your experience matches with the role. Using your research, practice for questions such as:

  • Tell me about yourself or Walk me through your resume.

  • What made you interested in this position with our company?

  • Do you have experience in X? (Something specific to the job description)

  • Tell me why you’d be a good fit for this position.

For example:

" I just graduated a couple weeks ago from University of North Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. My minor was in sustainability and I did an internship with the North Carolina Conservation Network.

So I was very excited to see an entry level position with Sustain Charlotte open up for a Trail Conservation Leader. Many of the responsibilities match up with my internship, such as managing volunteers and coordinating with other non-profits."

Fortunately, since you’re on the phone, you can have written notes in front of you for reference.

You don’t want to read your answers, but having an outline or bullet points can be helpful.

How should I answer the phone interview call?

It might seem a little silly to worry about such a tiny detail, but when you’re not meeting face-to-face, you need to take advantage of every opportunity. Instead of simply replying, “Hello?” make sure you identify yourself.

Hi, this is John.

Hello, John speaking.

This avoids the whole step of “May I speak to John?” More importantly, it demonstrates professionalism for an office environment. If this is your first job out of college, hiring managers look for these signs of maturity.

What should I do during the phone interview?

Based on feedback from recruiters who do many phone interviews every day, here are a few do’s and don’ts that will help you make a good impression.

  • Do find a quiet spot and stay there.

  • Don’t multi-task. They can tell!

  • Do put on a smile. It comes through in your tone of voice.

  • Don’t put your interviewer on hold.

  • Do put on headphones if you can. It improves call quality.

  • Don’t be late. This goes for any kind of interview!

  • Do keep your answers concise. Telephone interviews are meant to be brief.

  • Don’t dominate the conversation. They’re trying to get a lot of information quickly.

  • Do speak in a friendly, conversational tone. No need to be super formal.

What should I do at the end of the phone interview?

More than likely, the phone interviewer will ask if you have any questions at the end of the call.

This is your chance to show you’ve done your research and you’re genuinely excited about the opportunity.

You don’t want to go overboard, but you need to have at least three questions ready. Listen for their tone of voice to see how open they are to questions and ask accordingly.

Here are a few examples:

  • Can you describe a typical day for someone in this position?

  • I saw on LinkedIn that your company is expanding into app development.

  • Would this be part of my job?

  • What is your timeline for hiring this position?

What should I do after the phone interview?

You’re not quite done! Write a brief, professional note to reinforce your enthusiasm about the opportunity. Try to send within the hour of the phone interview. Here’s an example:

Hi Scott,

Great speaking with you today. Based on our conversation, I feel confident that I’d be qualified for the Web Developer position and would love to be considered. Please let me know if you need any further information. I look forward to hearing from you about the next steps.

Regards, John


Hopefully these tips have given you more confidence for your next phone interview.

If you remember nothing else – remember this – Take the phone interview seriously. Hiring managers have to sift through hundreds of applicants. You already made the short list. Don’t give them any reason to disqualify you early in the process. Good luck!

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