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How To Ace A Phone Interview

How To Ace A Phone Interview

Phone interviews are quite common for first round and subsequent interviews, so it is important that you are well prepared to handle them. The key to acing a phone interview is to treat it as if it were an in-person conversation and prepare for it the same way. Since a phone interview can often determine if you move forward as a candidate, it is worth your extra time and attention.

In addition to having your resume, the job description, pen, paper, computer, and a glass of water handy, follow these tips to ensure a much better chance of nailing the interview.

  1. Check phone reception in advance. If you are taking the call on your cell phone in a conference room at work, in your home or elsewhere, make a few test calls to ensure there is strong, reliable reception. Dropped calls are frustrating for everyone and can have a negative impact on the interviewer’s perception of you.
  2. Make sure you won’t be interrupted. Interruptions during an interview can make you seem unprepared and that you lack interest in the job. They can also frustrate the interviewer because he/she has to wait while you deal with the situation. Choose a location where you know will be undisturbed for the entire interview.
  3. Allow extra time. Interviews often get delayed or go over their scheduled time. You never want to be worried about getting back to the office, being on time for a call with your boss or picking up your child, as any obligation will divide your attention. Keep in mind that if the interview goes well, you may be asked to speak with someone else immediately - and that person could be your future boss! Always allot extra time for a phone interview so you have flexibility.
  4. Block out noise. If you will be home during the interview, make sure you close windows and shut doors. Ambient noise (sirens, barking, crying or lawnmowers) can be very distracting to both you and the interviewer. If the interviewer can hear the noise, then it’s likely he/she isn’t listening closely to what you’re saying. If you can hear the noise, you may lose focus and not be able to answer a question as strongly as you could have.
  5. Use headphones, not speakerphone. When a call is on speaker, small sounds are amplified and it can be hard for someone on the other end to hear you clearly. Use headphones to increase clarity and avoid neck discomfort when holding the phone to your ear during long conversations.
  6. Sit in a chair. Your voice projects more strongly from a chair. Avoid sitting on a couch, recliner or bed, as they often cause you to naturally slouch, which affects the strength and energy of your voice.
  7. Don’t face a window. If you are easily distracted, avoid facing a window to minimize the chance that something will grab your attention and prevent you from hearing a question or responding to one strongly. Even a distraction for a millisecond can throw you off and negatively affect your presentation during an interview. This can be especially frustrating if you are in the middle of a great response to a question.
  8. Silence your phone. Whether or not you are using your cell phone for the interview, make sure your ringer is turned off and the phone is on silent (not on vibrate). If the interviewer hears those sounds, they may get annoyed or wonder if you are paying full attention. Also turn the phone face down to prevent distractions from texts or notifications.
  9. Smile. Even though the interviewer can’t see you, smiling while you are speaking will help to convey your enthusiasm for your work and interest in the job. Making a positive impression is a key component of a successful interview and smiling will help get your message across.

Advanced preparation for a phone interview can increase your chances of moving forward as a candidate for a job you’re pursuing. Many things can cause distractions to both you and the interviewer, so make sure to take actions to minimize them.


Alyssa Gelbard is the Founder and CEO of Point Road Group, a unique branding firm that helps companies deliver a consistent, positive brand experience through their people. She leads a highly skilled team that works with diverse companies to improve how their employees communicate brand value to drive prospect and customer engagement. Alyssa also directs the company’s Board Director/Executive Branding practice.

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