Top 3 Tips for Telephone Interviews

Today, I’m excited to welcome guest author and syndicated columnist, Joyce Lain Kennedy who has provided her Top 3 Tips for Telephone Interviews: 

1. The telephone call is a screening call. The interviewer aims to be sure that your qualifications meet the requirements of the position. Draw verbal links between a company’s requirements and your qualifications: “You want X, I offer X; you want Y, I offer Y; you want Z, I offer Z.” Make the connection!

When the call comes in unsolicited and you don’t already know the requirements of a position, ask: “To be sure we’re clear on this position, can you tell me the job’s requirements?” Take notes and connect the dots.

2. Make phone appointments. Whenever possible, don’t answer questions on the fly when the call comes in. And especially don’t interview on your cell phone while you’re out and about. You won’t be prepared and you won’t do your best. Schedule an appointment for your phone interview. Say that you’re walking out the door to a meeting across town and will call back as quickly as you can:

“Thank you for calling. I appreciate your attention. I’m very interested in speaking with you about my qualifications. Unfortunately, this is not a good time for me — I’m headed out the door. Can I call you back in an hour?”

If a recruiter insists on calling you back rather than the other way around, do what you would do for any other interview: Be ready early as a reminder to interview as a professional. Change out of your jeans and into the type of clothing you’d wear in a  business meeting. Most importantly, treat the call as an overture to an in-room meeting. And remember, a smile makes your voice sound better.

3. Don’t blow off the screening call. Interviewers ask about your experience, skills, competencies, education, your inconvenient geography, and whether your financial requirement is too low or too high for the job’s predetermined compensation range. (Know in advance the market pay range for various jobs by checking with such sites as

Use back-up phrases. After answering a question, add such follow-on phrases as “Does that answer your question?” “ Have I sufficiently answered your question about my managerial experience?” “Is this the kind of information you’re seeking?”

 Take telephone interviews seriously:

The reason to take screens seriously is that if you flunk them, you won’t be passed on to the next step in the hiring process, the selection interviewing sequence.

 Joyce Lain Kennedy (San Diego, CA) is a nationally syndicated careers columnist and the author of seven career books, including the recently released THIRD edition of Job Interviews For Dummies. For four decades, she has advised millions of readers on their career development and job search strategies.

One thought on “Top 3 Tips for Telephone Interviews

  1. Hi Wendy,

    I think that the content on your blog is terrific. I especially like this post by Joyce because I feel that the phone interview is something that most undergraduates and young professionals take for granted. They feel safe because they’re in the safety of their own home with the company website and their resume in front of their face. The truth is phone interviews are just as tough because you have to work on making a connection with the interviewer with just the sound of your voice.

    I look forward to reading more of your content.


    Jun Loayza

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