Telephone Interview Tips

The object of the “Telephone Interview” is very often just a preliminary look at one’s skills, experiences, and knowledge. The interviewer will usually go into depth in the areas that most closely match the position’s requirements. The goal of this encounter is generally to determine whether or not an “in-person” interview should be arranged, this interview is special for covid 19 job hunting.

The content (and length) of a phone interview may vary greatly. It is imperative that you establish with the Interviewer their expectations for your phone meeting. Early in conversation, confirm with the Interviewer how much time they have to meet with you AND what they expect to accomplish during their time with you. A properly worded question to learn this might be:

  • “In order to best use our time today, may I ask how much time we have, and what you would like to accomplish?”

It is imperative that you understand, and adhere to, their expectations. Write them down, and place them in front of you!

While interpersonal characteristics may be assessed to some degree, the focus of this time will usually be technical in nature. Since you won’t be able to observe the other party’s actions and reactions (body language), it is important to “tune in” to any noticeable changes in their vocal inflection and speech patterns.

Changes in inflection and patterns should trigger adjustments in your responses. You might notice changes in the interviewer like:

  • a quickening or slowing of speech
  • an unexpected pause
  • an abrupt, or untimely, change of subject
  • an increase or decrease in speech volume
  • an apparent uneasiness
  • the appearance of previously unused sounds like “hmmm” and “uh”

When you observe any of these changes, try to adjust your responses (as needed) to include phrases like:

  • “does that answer need further clarification?”
  • “I’m sorry, did I go into too much detail?”
  • “shall I go into more detail?”
  • “does that answer your question completely?”

Remember that many times these telephone interviews take place in the evening. The interviewer is likely to be tired, and may be trying to hurry things a bit so they can get back to personal things. Be cognizant of your interviewer’s possible time constraints, and keep your responses as brief as possible (albeit thorough), while qualifying your answers for completeness. A good response to a question that could have a long, detailed answer might be: would you like me to answer that question with the short version or the long version?

Be certain to allow the interviewer to “set the pace.” Make yourself aware of the amount of time you are taking to respond to their questions. Avoid going off on a tangent, or entering into off-the-subject “chitchat” unless the interviewer leads you there. But even then, be very aware of the amount of time you are taking.

Be careful about your use of humor. It can be dangerous during an in-person interview, but can be devastating when you can’t see the other party’s reactions.

Whenever possible, show interest in the company, the position, and your interviewer. Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic, even excited, at the prospect of being selected for the position.

To conclude: stay focused, be very time conscious, and be yourself. Don’t be afraid to let your personality “shine.” Most of all, if you feel the position is right for you, TELL THEM!


Main Page – Candidate Information

General Interview Tips

Telephone Interview Tips (you are here)

In-Person Interview Tips

Behavioral Interview Tips

Resume Improvement Tips

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