Phone Interview


Phone Interview

The phone interview is increasingly being used as an efficient preliminary tool to determine if you will be invited for a face-to-face interview. It is important to be prepared.

This type of interview is typically a basic interview with behavioral questions that lasts anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. The interviewer’s objective is to:

  • Verify the information on your resume.
  • Determine if you fully understand the job and the company you applied to.
  • Learn about your goals, why you want this job, and why you want to work for this company.
  • Learn about you and hear you talk. They want to know that you can communicate well.


Ensure that your voicemail message includes your name and that your message is polite and leaves a positive first impression. If you’ve applied for a job, be aware that whenever you pick up your phone, the caller might be a phone screen interviewer. Be prepared to have an interview discussion or, if you’re not, ask if you can reschedule the phone interview for another time (in the immediate future). Otherwise, let the call go to voicemail and call the interviewer back as quickly as possible (when you’re prepared).

Keep a copy of your resume, job descriptions of positions applied to, employer research materials, a calendar, and pen and paper nearby in case needed during any phone interview. (Where you keep these items will be based on whether you’ll be taking a call on your cell phone or a landline.)

Common Questions

Prepare your answers ahead of time to such common questions as:

  • Tell me a little about yourself.
  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • Why are you applying to our organization?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What were your most significant accomplishments in your last position?
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  • What can you contribute to our organization?
  • Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?

During the Call

  • During the interview, be enthusiastic and confident. Remember that you don’t have the benefit of facial expressions and eye contact to show your excitement and interest. However, most listeners can tell when you’re smiling, so smile!
  • Be ready to provide specific examples of projects and accomplishments to demonstrate your skills. These examples can come from your current or past experiences. Whichever they are, however, be prepared to explain how your past experience transfers to the job you’re applying for.
  • Don’t speak too fast, drink, chew gum, or smoke during the conversation. Make sure you’re in a quiet area to reduce or eliminate background noise.
  • End your conversation on a positive note. Keep the focus on how you can benefit the organization. Reiterate your strong interest in the position and your reasons why. The enthusiasm you display could be the deciding factor between you and another candidate.
  • Before ending the call, ask what the next step in the hiring process will be.
  • If you didn’t note it during the call, ask for the interviewer’s name and contact information so that you may follow up with a thank you email, note, or voicemail message. This again demonstrates your interest and enthusiasm.