The Phone Interview Checklist


The phone interview is now a typical step in the hiring process because in-person interviews are a logistical challenge and time consuming. Use these tips to get ahead of the pack.

The phone interview is now a typical step in the hiring process because in-person interviews are a logistical challenge and time consuming. The phone interview is used to take a pool of candidates and, through a series of questions that confirm that the information provided is accurate and that the person is professional and articulate, select the top contenders to be brought in to interview.

As Soon as You Apply

1. When you apply for a job or send your resume to a company, research the company and go beyond just what is on their website. Google their name and click on all of the links on at least the first two pages of results to discover all of the information about the company that you can. Take notes or print the most important pages.

2. Go into LinkedIn and see who in your network has contacts in the company. Contact them and see what they have to say about the company. A client told me that they were dissuaded by a current employee from pursuing a position within the company (“it’s awful here”).

3. Develop a list of questions you want answered about the company, the department, and the position to be sure YOU want to move on to an in-person interview.

When You Get the Call

1. If you receive an unexpected call requesting a phone interview, do not take the interview then; propose an alternate time. You want time to prepare. No one expects you to be available without prior notice. Deferring the call to a scheduled time will not ruin your chances; in fact, being prepared before the interview will increase your chances.

2. Review your list of accomplishments.

3. Lay out your resume, cover letter (if applicable), company research, the list of questions you want to ask, paper and pen in order to take notes, and your calendar.

4. Be sure you are in an absolutely quiet location. You may be surprised how much noise can be picked up over the phone.

5. Stand up while talking. When we sit with no one else in the room, we are not as conscience about our posture and can slump, collapsing the diaphragm and sounding like we have no energy.

6. Stand in front of a mirror to reflect your body language. This might help you remember to smile and a smile is heard over the phone.

7. Keep your answers a tad shorter than you normally would. You are without the benefit of seeing the interviewer’s body language to know that your answer was sufficient (nodding of a head) or that she is ready to move on to the next question (she looks down at her list of questions).

8. If you need to think about an answer, say so; don’t just go silent. Silence may cause the interviewer to think the phone connection has dropped.

9. If asked about your salary requirements, reply that it is early in the interview process and that you need to understand more about the position before you could answer that question.

10. Express interest, if indeed you are interested. If this is not a fit for you, there are two options:

a. Continue with the interviewing process to get the experience. Don’t take this too far though; if they understand you were not interested from the start, you could get your name on the “never call again” list.

b. Say it is not a fit. The hiring personnel will appreciate your honesty.

11. Ask for and understand the next steps and approximate timeframes.

After the Phone Interview

1. Unless they immediately schedule an in-person interview, hand-write and send a thank you note in the mail.

2. As is the case in all areas of the job search, follow-up is your responsibility.

Know what to do to prepare for and pass the phone interview and begin your preparation now.

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