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The interview process has many steps. The first is typically a phone interview, which interviewers use to screen candidates before bringing them on site.

Many candidates consider phone interviews difficult because they do not take place face-to-face, but with these tips, you can have a successful phone interview.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Like with an in-person interview, you want to prepare for a phone interview ahead of time. Research the company and take notes about what you find. Reading through their website is a great start, but you can impress your interviewer by searching for news articles and insights not on the company website. This information will help you understand more about the company and your position and ask thoughtful questions.

Most phone interviews take place on a cell phone. Be sure your phone is charged and gets good coverage where you plan to take the call. Remember that your reception can change from room to room within your home, so test the space for reception and background noise beforehand with a call to a friend.

Before the call, print your resume and the job description. Dress like you are attending an in-person interview to boost your confidence and encourage yourself to be on your best professional behavior. If you want an extra confidence boost, try standing in a power pose (think Superman or Wonder Woman) for a few minutes before the call.

During the Interview

Once your interview begins, the most important thing is to not let yourself feel unduly pressured just because you are on the phone. English speakers begin to feel awkward about silences after only 4 seconds, and you must not let this affect you. You want to take time to respond to questions with well-thought-out answers and specific examples. Explain pauses by saying “I need to think about that for a moment” before formulating a cohesive answer.

In addition to managing silence, you should participate in active listening to make the most of your interview. Active listening is crucial for a phone interview because it puts you in tune with your interviewer even though you cannot see them. Listen carefully to everything they say, repeating back or clarifying information as needed to show you understand their position or point.

Remember that other basic interview skills are crucial during your phone interview. Smile and be enthusiastic so the interviewer can hear that you are engaged and interested. Take notes, and let the interviewer know you are doing so. If you do not hear the interviewer clearly, do not hesitate to ask them to repeat themselves or clarify.

At this time, it is best to avoid asking questions about benefits, salary, remote work opportunity, or other “what’s in it for me” areas. Asking those questions this early in the process makes you sound greedy at best—and assumptive and cocky at worst. Hold on to these questions until later in the interview process, or ask your recruiter about these details.

As the Interview Ends

As the call ends, take a moment to display your interest in the position. Ask the interviewer if anything concerns them about your application or makes them think you are not a good fit for the role. Address these concerns head-on if there is time, or respond to their concern in an email sent after the interview concludes.

Always be sure to finish the call by thanking the interviewer for their time and asking them about the next steps in the interview process.

After the Interview

Immediately after the interview, reach out to your recruiter to debrief them about how the interview went and what you think of the position and company. You want to do this as quickly as possible so that the information is still fresh in your mind. Do not hesitate to share your opinions—if the position is not a good fit, tell your interviewer why you feel that way.

Once you have debriefed your recruiter, send a thank you note to the hiring manager (or to your recruiter to pass along). This should be an email, so that it gets to them right away.

JDC Group’s recruiters want to see our candidates succeed. If you struggle with phone interviews, reach out to our team at [email protected] to schedule a practice session.


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