Phone Interview Do’s and Don’ts

Phone Interview Do’s and Don’ts

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One way to prepare for your future career is to pursue the appropriate qualifications.  You may not have as much flexibility as others and could benefit from home learning courses.  However, once you have evidence of all the skills you require for a job, you need to find one.  Well done if your application attracts attention.  However, now you may need to go through a phone interview.  It is different meeting people in person.  You have a lot more tools to impress the interviewer.  Consequently, how to prepare for a phone interview is different.

The phone interview is often used to screen a larger pool of talent before a more formal, face-to-face process is undertaken.  Therefore, it’s another step in the process of screening, and you will have more to do before the job is yours.   The phone interview isn’t about cutting corners; it is a means of minimising expenses and only involving candidates who have a serious chance of the position.

The “Do’s” of phone interviews


It would be best if you prepared for your phone interview in the same way as a traditional interview.  It would help if you started by compiling a list of your strengths and weaknesses.  You should also put together a list of questions to ask the interviewer.  It is never a good idea to say that you have no questions, as it looks like you are not fully engaged in the process.

Another way to prepare is to match your qualifications to the job description, as this will help you give examples about why you are a strong candidate for the post.  Prepare a copy of your CV and highlight the key dates of when you have held specific positions and the skills exhibited at this point in your career.


You may think you are adept at talking on the phone.  However, it is more of a skill than you realise.  Therefore, rehearsing the questions over the phone with a friend or family member is a sound suggestion.  Focus on how you pronounce words and what happens when you falter.  You need to be more aware of those moments when you stumble, or you are considering an answer.  Speak with the person practising with you and seek advice on the impression you gave.

It might also be a good idea to record your answers.  You will be surprised by the number of ums and ahs and noises that indicate your uncertainty and your nerves.  When you hear the potential issues, you can practice in everyday speech, trying to overcome this in your normal conversational speech.

Ready yourself

You then need to make sure you know the details of the call.  It would help if you had a warning set up that reminds you 15 minutes before the interview, so you can make sure the environment around you is as perfect as it can be.  If the caller doesn’t ring bang on time, don’t panic, they may be falling behind schedule.

The “Don’ts” of phone interviews

Don’t be in a busy place

You have researched, prepared, practised and made yourself ready for the call.  It is time to consider all the pitfalls to avoid.  An obvious one is to avoid taking the call while you are driving or when you are in a busy place.  If you take the call and cannot continue the interview for one reason or another, you are going to appear unreliable. Reliability is the number one quality that an employer is looking for in its staff.  A bad start in this way cannot be walked back.

You should not only make sure you are in a quiet room with do not disturb on the door, but you need to be sure you are answering the call yourself.  You need to let family members and housemates know that you are expecting a call and you should answer.  Then, when you answer the phone, don’t just say hello.  Respond with your name in a perky tone, letting the interviewer feel confident they are speaking to the right person.

Don’t Interrupt

Do not interrupt the interviewer.  They have no visual cues. Therefore, you need to listen to the whole question and then begin your answer.  It would help if you had a notepad with you so you can note down ideas as they come to you.  This is especially important if the question is quite involved, with multiple parts.  You do not want to ask the interviewer to repeat a long question.  If you miss a part of the item, ask questions to clarify this point of the issue.

Don’t speak until you know the answer.  Pause, live with the quiet.  Then, begin your answer when you know your response.  If you need a long time to think, ask for the question to be repeated or ask a question about the subject.

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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