Phone Interview: How to make a great impression over the phone

I got an interview, but it’s a phone interview. How do I make an impression over the phone? Is it even possible to have a successful phone interview?


Yes, it is!


Phone interviews are becoming more and more common as companies gain greater access to candidates and more recruiters and hiring managers work from home-based office locations On the flip side, you don’t have to worry about having your suit pressed, and you can have your notes right in front of you. However, because you are physically removed from your interviewer, it can be trickier to establish rapport and get a read on the hiring manager during a phone conversation. 

Even if you’ve never had a phone interview before,  relax, it’s not a rocket science. Just like in-person job interviews, there is a process you can follow to prepare and make a great impression over the phone. I did it. It works. Just follow the steps and tweak them when needed to suit your situation.


1.   Prepare, prepare, prepare! I cannot emphasize the importance to research a company you’re interviewing with beforehand. (I will probably talk about it in every post - that’s how important it is.) Write down key information - what the company does, your understanding of the position and responsibilities, community work it’s involved in, etc. It will help you think of questions when it’s your time to show how well you prepared for this interview and will give you a sense of a company’s language in case he or she wants to ask a few questions beyond your experience. If you want to sound educated on a subject of what this company is all about - this is your chance. Again, the ball is in your court - have your notes ready on the screen of your laptop or print them out, whatever is most convenient for you.

2.  Make sure to schedule your interview during the time you won’t be distracted. Treat a phone interview just like an in-person interview. At the designated appointment time,  make sure the dog is in the backyard where you won’t hear it barking, and someone else is watching the kids. Don’t add additional hassle to an already stressful situation. If a recruiter or hiring manager calls you without advance notice and wants to interview you on the spot, use caution. If the interview conditions aren’t optimal at the time of the call, it’s best to tell the interviewer you are very interested in the position, but need to schedule another time to have a conversation. That time can be as soon as one hour later if that works for you — make sure you can take the call without being distracted.

3.  Create a comfortable office-like space. The great thing about a phone interview is that you have all the control over the space you choose to be at the moment of the interview. Go an extra mile and wear something you’d wear to an actual interview. It will put you in a professional mode and influence your thinking and response process. It might sound silly; however, if you’re sitting in your PJ’s on a couch during an interview, believe me, it will reflect in how you conduct the conversation. And I can tell you for sure - you won’t impress anyone, so dress for success!

4.  Have a glass of water nearby. I don’t think I have to explain this one.

5.   Have your notes in front of you. A phone interview is like an open book test, the more you know where to look for the information, the better. Also, have an outline of the points you want to zoom in when it comes to your experience and how it relates to a position you’re applying for. It’s all about relevancy!

6.  Practice to control your breath. Just because you’re physically removed from your interview, it doesn’t mean you won’t be nervous, so being mindful of your breath is critical.

7.   Use pauses effectively. They can be awkward during a phone interview just like any live conversation. Your interviewer might be typing up your answers or making notes to refer to them later when making a decision. Don’t rush, hold the pause and let the interviewer lead the way. Don’t take over the interview; that will definitely make the wrong impression.

8.  Don’t multi-task. We have become accustomed to multi-tasking; however, as mentioned in tip #2, it can be counter-productive. Don’t check your email or stick a casserole in the oven while you are engaged in a phone interview. Act the same way you would for an in-office interview and maintain your focus.

9.  Practice. Write down some of your answers and read them back to yourself. Are you easy to understand? Are you saying too many unnecessary ‘thats’ and ‘ums?’ Do you communicate interest and enthusiasm? If necessary, re-work you answers and overall presentation.

10.              Practice speaking in front of a mirror. When you observe yourself speaking, you might find a few details in your overall presentation you need to work on. Take this seriously. If you notice certain details about the way you present yourself you, chances are, your interviewer will notice it too (and yes, it translates over the phone as well).  Polish the way you conduct yourself while you speak. It will pay off.


Phone interviews aren’t as scary as many people think. If you do the homework and make sure you’re fully prepared, you will find, it’s quite possible to make a great impression over the phone. I’ve done it. In fact, many people have done it. It works.


We hope these tips help. Good luck!



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