Phone interviews: 10 useful tips for candidates

Through the recruitment process, phone interview is the first contact, and allows the recruiter / employer and the candidate to determine whether either of them has an interest in continuing towards the next steps.

Phone interviews are very frequent and will continue to be so – and will even increase in the future. They have several advantages, but also several pitfalls!

The biggest risk is neglecting preparation … In fact, I recommend that candidates prepare as much, if not more, than for an in-person interview. Otherwise, it could project an impression contrary to what you really are … and miss the opportunity to go to the next stage of the process.

This week, here are the top 10 tips I share with candidates in preparation for their phone interviews. Often, just one of these tips can completely change the dynamics of the interview!

You will notice that most also apply to interviews in person and by videoconference … this is normal, and goes back to the importance of the phone interview!

Learn about the employer

The more you know about the company, the more you show an interest, your professionalism, and your rigor, and helps you in your thinking for the proposed position.

There are many sources, the main ones being the company’s website, Facebook and LinkedIn pages, publications and press releases, industry sector, competition and their positioning in the market, LinkedIn profile of the person you will be talking to, discuss with people around you who know or work for this company, external sources (eg iCriq, business publications, etc.).

Review job description and CV

Study each of the points in the job description, responsibilities, skills sought, working conditions, and identify skills you have that align with what the employer is looking for. Do not neglect transferable skills and experiences, while being able to indicate why and how it is!

Have specific questions

It is important to have a few questions ready to ask, especially for the end of the interview, demonstrating interest in the position and validating if it meets your professional objectives. If you have diligently followed the 2 previous tips, you should already have at least 2 or 3 questions in note.

Asking what the next steps are is just as classic, but an important question to ask.

Neat attire

Wearing a dress style like what you would wear if you were invited to a face-to-face interview will influence your overall mood. You will be more in “business chat” mode and your focus will only be greater.

Adequate environment

Choose a quiet place, which promotes your concentration and avoids background noise. Make sure that cellular reception is not lacking to avoid network losses. Particularly during this time of confinement, you must warn the people who live with you not to disturb you and to avoid noise – not easy with children at home, recruiters will understand, but reduce as much as possible to maximize your concentration . Finally, avoid distractions such as pets, sounds made by electronic tools, etc.

Avoid taking calls in your vehicle, restaurant, or park.


Take a seat at the interview location approximately 10 minutes in advance, as if you were going to an in-person interview.

Make sure you have the job description, a copy of your resume, questions identified in front of you. With a pen handy, you can take notes during the interview.

Have your contact’s LinkedIn profile – either on screen or printed. If on the screen, be sure to turn off audio and visual notifications, such as emails, which could disturb your concentration.

Stand up and smile!

The great advantage of phone interviews is the possibility of standing. Compared to a sitting position, the airways are clearer, and your voice will sound even better. On the other hand, you can move around, have a more pronounced gestural expression than in an in-person interview, and demonstrate better self-confidence. With the other’s body language absent, you have control over your body expression which will be projected into your voice. Beware, however, of the disadvantages that this can project (footsteps, loss of cellular network, etc.)

Smile! Because smiling gives a different dynamic to voice and intonation.

Respond concisely

It is often easy on the phone to expand in our responses. Listen carefully to the question, take the time to reflect (see next point on silences) and respond concretely, giving the information requested by your interlocutor, without going into too much detail.

If the person wants more information, they will ask you to elaborate.

Of course, if you did not understand the question correctly … ask to clarify, there is nothing wrong, on the contrary!

Be yourself, answer honestly, without trying to answer what you think the other person wants you to answer … in the end, you would be the most disadvantaged person because you could get a job that does not meet your expectations.

Adopt a moderate voice rate and sound level because frequent variations can become distractions for your interlocutor.

A silence? No stress!

Candidates often fear silences during phone interviews. During face-to-face meetings, physical presence fills these silences because we can see what the other is doing (taking notes, thinking, etc.). On the phone, it is the same thing, it’s about managing differently.

If you want a few seconds to think about a question, ask for a few seconds for this.

If there is silence as a result of your response, allow a few seconds and ask the other party if you have answered the point they were probing – they may be taking notes or reviewing them, and preparing for the next question. He will ask you to clarify your answer if necessary.

Short silences also make it possible to avoid interrupting the other party.

Conclusion of the interview

Request permission to ask a few questions to your contact. If the ones you prepared were answered during the discussion, perhaps others appeared. This is an opportunity for you to validate points that are important in relation to the professional choice you will make soon.

Send an email demonstrating your appreciation of the discussion, which will include a short summary of your understanding of the position, as well as the main points that make you an ideal candidate. If you do not have the person’s email address, you can send them a note via LinkedIn.

The note must be concise, carefully written to avoid spelling errors and sent within 24 hours of the interview.

Tell us the tips that helped you the most and, if you have other suggestions, I invite you to share so that everyone can enjoy them!

Wishing you successful phone interviews!