Telephone Interview

The telephone interview is extremely common, and can be an excellent and efficient way for an employer to conduct an initial screening of applicants - OR conduct an entire interview! The telephone interview enables the employer to quickly evaluate your verbal communication skills, knowledge and skills, and your interest in and fit for the position.

Once you start sending out your resume, be ready to receive phone calls from employers! You may be called to schedule a phone interview. Being organized and well prepared is essential in doing well on this type of interview. Your goal for the telephone interview is a face-to-face meeting with the employer. 


Prepare responses to common Sample Interview Questions. Phone interview questions are similar, or the same, as for an on-site interview. Always ask questions, also. Telephone interviews are like an open book exam! Have all of your information in front of you —and use it!

  • Copy of your resume/references page/transcript to refresh your memory.
  • Any correspondence - cover letter, emails, etc. - you have had with the employer.
  • Pen and paper for taking notes - invaluable for preparing for a face-to-face meeting.
  • A list of your key skills and achievements essential to your success in the position.
  • Your answers to difficult questions to refer to if you are asked.
  • List of your questions to ask: Always ask questions but limit number due to time constraints.
  • Your personal calendar in case you're asked to schedule an on-site interview. 

On the Phone

Adopt a professional attitude and manner 

During a phone interview, an employer only has ears with which to judge you! Attend to your tone of voice - convey enthusiasm and energy. Ensure you have a professional message on your voice mail/answering machine. If possible, have a friend or family member conduct a "mock" phone interview - tape record it and listen to yourself!

Attend to posture while on the telephone

Slouching in a chair or lying on a bed can cause your voice to be more casual and hard to understand. Sit as you would in an actual interview; or preferably at a desk - with your notes in front of you! 

Take the call in the privacy of a quiet location

If you are in a noisy environment, ask the interviewer if they would mind waiting a moment while you move to a quieter location. You should have NO distractions! If you have call waiting, TURN IT OFF! 

Don't chew gum, eat, drink, or smoke while on the telephone

Such behavior is unprofessional - plus, sounds are amplified on the telephone! 

Speak slowly and clearly, so that your answers are concise and easy to follow

Offer verbal signals that you are engaged in the conversation - occasional short interjections that don't interrupt the interviewer's flow, but indicate you're attentive. Comments such as: "That's interesting," "Sure," "Great," and "Yes," are verbal equivalents of body language techniques demonstrating interest. 

Under NO circumstances should you ask about salary, benefits, vacation time, etc.

The employer will address these topics at a later time. If they do ask, however, be prepared to verbalize a salary range you are looking for.  


  • At the end of the telephone call, the interviewer will usually explain the next step - for example, if you should expect another contact from them or from someone else in the company, etc.
  • Make sure you express interest in the company and appreciation for the telephone interview!
  • Sending a thank you note is optional for a telephone interview, but an email thank you note is recommended. See Post-Interview Tips for a sample thank you note.