Is Your Phone Interview Giving You a Chance?


Because they’re generally brief, phone interviews save companies time and serve as a realistic screening alternative for out-of-town candidates.  Today, many companies have an initial phone screening before deciding which applicants to bring in for an in-person meeting. The first time talking with a hiring manager can lead to increased nerves and anxiety.  This may be hindering your overall tone and hurting your chances of being hired.  Here are some key tips to give you confidence and help ace your phone interview.

Do your Background Research.
Treat the preparation process for a phone interview as seriously as you would for an in person interview.  Be sure to research the company, study the job description, and practice your responses to common interview questions.  Learn all about the organization, the person interviewing you, their successes and concerns.  Be prepared to explain why you are the best fit for the job.

Don’t take a call out of the blue.
Most recruiters and hiring managers will e-mail you first to schedule a time to talk.  However, sometimes an HR manager will call you without warning to conduct a phone screening.  When you’re not expecting this call, you’re more likely to become anxious and freeze up.  Instead, let the interviewer know you’re delighted to talk to them, but are in the middle of something, and suggest a better time to speak.  Even if it’s just 30 minutes later, it’ll allow you time to gather your resume and collect your thoughts.  If a company is really interested in you, they’ll gladly reschedule.

Exercise your voice before the interview.
An hour before the interview, it’s important to warm up your voice.  Doing so will help you sound clear, confident, and rejuvenated.  The interviewer can’t pick up on visual cues or body language, so your pitch and tone are extremely important.  Professional speakers do voice exercises before speaking, and you should too. If nothing else, it’ll help calm your nerves.

Prepare your space.
Before the phone interview, make sure you have all the papers you’ll need during the conversation—your cover letter, resume, set of questions to ask—spread out in front of you, so you don’t have to rummage around while you’re on the phone.  Take the call from a quiet space where you won’t be bothered by background noise or interruptions.  Make sure the space feels professional, so that you’re in the right mind set and feel empowered.  Doing a phone interview in your pajamas from your couch is not recommended from a psychological standpoint. Studies have shown that the people who dress professionally for phone interviews perform better than those lying on their couch.

Don’t over-talk.
Just like the interviewer can’t read your non-verbal cues, you can’t read theirs.  When talking in person, you can see the interviewer adjusting their posture or adverting their gaze when they are getting bored with your answer.  Because you can’t pick up on these things over the phone, it’s always better to be concise when answering questions.  As a general rule, watch the clock and limit stretches of talking to 45 to 50 seconds.  If the interviewer wants you to elaborate any further than that, they’ll ask you to do so.

Listen closely.
Take note of the questions the interviewer is asking and your answers they seem most interested in.  This will help you figure out exactly what they’re looking for in a candidate and frame your answers to meet those requirements.

Follow up.
Don’t forget to follow up with a thank you e-mail within 24 to 48 hours of the phone interview.  Include concrete details, based on your conversation, about the ways in which you would contribute to the company if you got the job.  Ask them if there’s any more information they need from you to move forward.  Use this opportunity to request an in-person meeting.  It will let the interviewer know you’re interested in the job and are taking initiative to get it.

Put these phone interview secrets to the test by talking to a recruiter at RealStreet Staffing.  RealStreet matches experienced construction professionals with rewarding career opportunities in the Federal, architectural, construction, and engineering communities.  We know the market and have the contacts resources, and experience to help you build a better career.  Get started today by calling us at 410.480.8002 or e-mailing your resume to

The RealStreet folks are always helpful. They were instrumental in landing me a rewarding FEMA assignment in Southern California.

KC Green

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