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5 Ways to Ace a Job Interview Over the Phone

Businesswoman talking on phone, studio shotBusinesswoman talking on phone, studio shot
Significant gaps persist between the sexes.Tetra Images via Getty Images

Phone screens save companies time and money as they seek to narrow down their candidate pool to the top few who will merit an in-person interview. The medium presents some limitations, but understanding them ahead of time will help you to communicate effectively and garner a second interview.

1. Have materials at hand

As you would before an in-person meeting, gather your resume, work examples, the job description and any other relevant materials before the call. Have a pen and paper handy so you can jot down notes or questions as they come to you.

2. Don’t interview and drive

Taking the call while driving not only means your mind will be preoccupied; it’s also dangerous. You can’t control your environment, and the ambient noise could be distracting to the interviewer. We can all tell when someone on the other end of the phone is multitasking. Give the call the weight of your full attention.

3. Put energy into your voice

Physical cues communicate your interest and warmth, so without them you must work to infuse your voice with enthusiasm. Smiling while talking affects the quality of your voice, and standing while you speak may help you stay more focused and upbeat. It can be difficult to let your personality come through in a phone call, but communicating with directness and vocal energy is a good place to start.


4. Get to the end of the thought

Without visual signs that someone is actively listening, we are more likely to over talk, interrupt and speak in incomplete sentences on the phone. Listen carefully to the question as it’s being asked, take a breath if you need to before responding and do your best to make your answers, examples and questions clear and complete.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for another time

If the phone call is unplanned and someone is responding for the first time to your submission, don’t hesitate to ask for another time to speak. You want to be in a place, mentally and physically, where you can fully engage. You may be thrilled that someone is responding to your inquiry, but if you will be more prepared and less distracted at another time, this conversation is too important not to ask for it.

Most importantly, remember that a phone interview is in fact an interview and should be approached with the same level of preparation, care and formality that you would give to an in-person meeting. That said, no one will know if you’re in your pajamas. Set the stage as much as you need to.

Amy Segelin is the President and co-owner of Chaloner, a national executive search firm focused on communications, public relations, and marketing recruitment.

This story originally appeared on Chaloner’s The Interview Room blog.