Job-Search Tips: Preparing for Phone Interviews

You and the employer have two very different goals when you begin the telephone interview and our focus is to make this work for you.

The employer is often going to use this interview as a weeding process to get the many hundreds of applicants down to a manageable list that will be then invited to a face to face meeting. At a time when we have a larger than normal group of unemployed there is also a cost motive in reducing the face to face interview activity. When the employer first calls you to arrange the telephone screen make sure that you arrange a time that works for you and you have enough time to get organized.

Telephone Interview

The applicant has but a single goal, to get to the next step and have that face to face interview.

This first post is going to focus on Organization and Preparation. A subsequent post will focus on Practice, On the Day and Follow Up.


  • Who is calling who, what time and date and what is the name of the person who is calling from the employer?
  • Research the company, make sure that you know enough about the organization to be able to ask sensible questions or comment on their product or services. Use your library’s online service to look up recent articles and other information.
  • Practice the interview in the same way that you would prepare for any interview. We have an extended list of interview questions available of both the standard and behavioral varieties. For the purposes of this post I have listed below a number of the key areas you will need to be able to cover.
  1. Employment History – Key dates, employers, salary, jobs, etc. Use a sample job application form to get your thoughts in order.
  2. Your Background – What makes you tick, “Tell me about yourself”, goals, aspirations and motivation.
  3. The New Job – What makes this job special, what do you bring to the table, what do you know about the job/company?
  • Have the following organized:
  1. A bullet pointed list of accomplishments and an outline for answering the question “Tell me about yourself.”
  2. Copies of your resume, cover letter and the job description available so you can reference them at a moment’s notice.
  3. A pen and paper handy for taking notes, try to avoid using a computer as the keyboard sound can be distracting.
  4. A landline for taking the call, reception is usually better than a cell phone and turn off any call waiting or other features that may be distracting.
  5. A list of questions to ask the interviewer.

Good hunting


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