ATD Blog

Digital Interviews, Pt. 1: Quick Tips for Phone Interviews

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The competition is fierce and global. You must be able to communicate professionally and with polish and class in all interviewing channels before you actually meet a human being in person. Two key channels today are phone interviews and video interviews.

To ensure your success and assist you in mastering these two communication channels, this two-part blog series will give you quick pointers to help you succeed with both channels. In this blog, I will give you tips to help you master the very common phone interview.

Think of the phone interview as a first date. Going out for an ice cream is a great first date: cheap, easy and noncommittal. If the “ice cream” date goes well, then you may want to spend more time and money on the person, so you move on to a dinner or a movie date.

A phone interview is an easy, cost-effective way for a company to say “I’m interested in talking with you”—similar to an ice cream date. If a company really loves you, the organization will schedule a formal “face-to-face” interview in the office, and spend more time and money… similar to a movie or dinner date. Only if you make a great “phone interview” impression will you get a second date.

Here are some tips:

Be Yourself-At Your Best. Do not try to be the person you think the interviewer wants you to be; instead be the person you actually are.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. All great accomplishments have their foundation in carefully thought-out preparation. Phone interviews are a lot like an open-book test; you can have all your information (resume, cover letters, etc.) right in front of you.


Use a land line, and disable call waiting. Interruptions caused by dropped or incoming calls just add stress you don't need.

Have a list of questions prepared. Well-thought-out questions show you're really interested in the company and the job. Also, have your resume in front of you. Make sure it's the same version the interviewer has.

Listen, Think, Speak. It is important to listen to what the interviewer has to say, and then think before responding. Take a few seconds to understand the question, and then prepare a quality answer before simply blurting out something less intelligent.

Never interrupt. Silently count to two or three seconds after the interviewer stops talking before you start.


Ask about next steps. At the end of the call, ask how well your qualifications meet the company's needs. This will give you a chance to address minor issues immediately. Then ask when you can meet with them in person.

Say thanks. Follow up with an e-mail or a handwritten note. While you're at it, briefly remind the interviewer how your skills and achievements can help the company meet its goals.

Have a photo of your interviewer on your computer screen. This could be from LinkedIn, Facebook, the company website, or anywhere else your interviewer's face might appear online. It makes the interview a little more like an in-person conversation.

Next week, we’ll cover tips for handling the increasingly common video interview.

About the Author

Paul J. Bailo, is the author of  The Essential Phone Interview Handbook and The Essential Digital Interview Handbook—Lights, Camera, Interview. Paul is a global business leader and digital technology/marketing executive. 

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