Initial Phone Interview Tips

When you're in the market for a job, competition can be fierce. Employers often whittle down their candidate lists by conducting initial interviews, often by phone. Ensure that you stay in the running for the position by making a good impression during that phone interview. To ensure success -- being invited to an in-person interview -- you need to be prepared.

Be Ready

Once you submit your resume, be ready for that phone call to come in for an interview. Keep a pen and paper, and a copy of your resume at arm's reach. Every time your phone rings, assume that it’s a prospective employer and adopt an appropriate attitude. Answer the phone in a quiet place and speak professionalism. Nothing sinks a good impression more than acting unprepared. For instance, sounding as if you just woke up or answering the phone with party-like noise in the background is not going to impress the person on the other end of the line.


Carefully listen to what the caller is saying and asking. The more you can effectively answer questions or concerns, the more suitable you'll appear as a candidate. For example, the interviewer may use technical terms and industry jargon, and indicate qualities she is looking for in a candidate. Talk about your experience using the same terms and industry jargon, and work in examples to highlight qualities that match the ones she is seeking.

Don't Talk Too Much

Avoid overtalking during a phone interview. Feeling nervous during a phone interview is normal, but giving long-winded responses can make you appear less confident if it seems as if you are trying too hard to come up with an answer. Carefully listen to the question being asked and take a moment to collect your thoughts if needed before responding. Preparation and practice interviews in advance of the phone interview can help to lessen your nerves.

Stay Positive

Keep a positive attitude during the entire phone interview. The interviewer cannot see whether you are smiling or confident, so your voice and tone must convey your enthusiasm. Avoid negative words, such as "can't" and "don't," and keep a smile on your face even though the interviewer can't see it. You project a positive tone in your voice when you smile, according to interview tips offered from Yale University.

Thank You Note

Treat an initial phone interview as you would an in-person interview. After the call, take time to digest what was said and write an email thank you note to the person you spoke with. Express your appreciation for her time and for the opportunity to learn more about the position. Highlight qualities that you feel you didn't sufficiently emphasize during the call to show why you make a good candidate.