Sometimes employers will want to interview you over the phone. A phone interview can sometimes help them decide who they’ll invite for a face-to-face interview. Employment agencies also often use phone interviews to screen job applicants.
This guide to phone interviews has six simple tips that can help you make a good impression.
1. Get rid of distractions before the interview
You don't want any interruptions while you're being interviewed on the phone. Here are some ways to avoid interruptions:
- Find somewhere quiet to take the call.
- Let your family or housemates know you're expecting a call and you don't want to be interrupted.
- Turn off call waiting and all notifications on your phone if you can.
- Use a landline instead of a mobile if you can – you'll get better reception and the line won't cut out.
- If you get another call or a message while you're doing the phone interview, ignore it and let it go through to voicemail.
2. Get prepared for the interview
Before a phone interview, try to think of some questions you might be asked. Have a look at the other pages in our job interviews section for some ideas about things you might get asked.
Make sure you're ready for the call at least half an hour before the interview is supposed to start. This will give you time to sit quietly and think about what you plan to say.
3. Speak clearly during the interview
At the start of a phone interview, it's a good idea to ask the interviewer if they can hear you clearly. If you're having trouble hearing them, you can politely let them know.
Don't eat, chew gum or do anything else that might make it hard to hear what you're saying.
Sometimes if you're a bit nervous your mouth might go dry or your voice might get croaky. Have a glass of water nearby so you can take a sip if you need it. Don't forget to excuse yourself before you take a sip.
4. Don't interrupt the interviewer
It's important not to interrupt an interviewer. Make sure you wait until they've finished asking a question before you start answering. It helps to try leaving a little pause between their question and your answer.
Even if you need the interviewer to explain something, or you need to ask them to repeat something, don't speak until they've finished what they're saying.
5. Give detailed answers to the interviewer's questions
When you're doing a phone interview, the interviewer can't see if you're nodding, smiling or making hand gestures. Words are all you've got to impress them. Don't just answer questions with ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Try to avoid sentences that are very short, if you can.
Try to answer questions with as much detail as possible. If you're talking about jobs you've done before, or skills you have, give examples of how you did those jobs or used those skills.
If you need some time to think about an answer, don't leave the interviewer waiting in silence. Let them know you're preparing your answer by saying something like, ‘That’s a good question. Just give me a moment to think about my answer.’
Our pages on interview questions have more tips on answering interview questions.
6. Ask about the next steps after the interview
Your phone interview is probably just one step in the recruitment process. At the end of the interview you should ask the interviewer about what will happen next. For example, whether you'll be asked to do another interview in person.
If you promise to do something for the interviewer, like send them your CV or provide contact details for your referees, make sure you follow up on those promises as soon as you can.