Phone Interview Tips: How to Ace A Phone Interview

During the interview

Relax and take your time

According to Macey Hall, a HC Campus Correspondent at the University of Maine, a lack of physical cues is one of the hardest parts about phone interviews. “I had a Skype interview last semester with Harper Collins that I think would have gone better in person,” she says. “Even though you can see the person’s face, you can’t pick up on non-verbal communication or facial expressions [as well].” Additionally, Krista Evans, a HC Campus Correspondent from Simmons College received similar insight about the miscommunications that can occur over the phone. “A boss of mine once told me that the way people sound on the phone interview (uptight, disinterested, super nervous), is a lot like [the way they give] a first impression,” Krista says. “If you can't sound normal, calm and collected on the phone, how will your employer know how you’ll behave in person?” 

While making sure that all of your notes are in order will help you feel more prepared and avoid seeming distracted or awkward, Harber also says that altering your speech rhythm will actually improve the flow of conversation. “Pause briefly before answering questions due to the possible time delay,” he advises. Most people are afraid to stop talking for fear of sounding confused or caught off guard, but if you wait to see if your interviewer keeps speaking or not, you’ll come across as more thoughtful and avoid awkwardly cutting her off.

After the interview

Say thanks

Even though your interview won’t end with a firm handshake or an extended business card, make sure to finalize the experience just like you would for an in-person interview. It isn’t necessary to send your interviewer a follow-up email immediately after your conversation, but it’s a good idea not to wait longer than a day or two to thank the person for his or her time.

Think about how you can improve

If your first experience with a phone interview didn’t exactly give you a self-esteem boost, take note of what you can change for the next time. You will probably have another opportunity to speak to an interviewer from afar (lucky you!), so coming up with a new plan of action will only help you in the future. Krista knows a lot about the ups and downs—and ups, again—of long-distance interviews. “The first two phone interviews I did were really uncomfortable and I didn’t get either job,” she admits.“But after that and since then, I have received internship offers and some job offers just from the way I conducted my phone interview.”

Be confident!

Whether you’re making moves in your personal life or your professional one, confidence is always key. Remember that you really do have a lot to offer your prospective employer, and don’t be ashamed to toot your own horn a little. Confidence doesn’t equal cockiness and your interviewer will appreciate your explaining why you would be a great hire. But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what other members of the Her Campus team say about phone and Skype interviews:

“My advice to those who'll be taking part in phone interviews is to be calm, and most importantly, be confident in what you say. The person you are interviewing with is just a person behind a desk. There is nothing to be afraid of!” – Nicole Karlis, Contributing Writer, University of Iowa

“I would definitely recommend a phone interview for anyone who is able to do so, and even asking for one if you cannot make an in-person interview—it shows you care and really are interested in the position. I would advise anyone who is going to have a phone interview to keep it conversational - don't worry too much about saying ‘the right thing’ or sounding a certain way—these people want to get to know you, the real you, so just give them that and you'll be golden. Play to your strengths and be honest about your experiences.” – Valentina Palladino, Branch Manager & Contributing Writer, Syracuse University

“I think [that asking] questions shows that you have really thought about the job in depth, and that you want to be as prepared as possible. [During my interview], a document was in front of me and guided me through the interview questions. I got both of the internships [that I applied for] and had a successful summer in LA. My recommendation is to try the best you can to show your personality through voice inflection and to be prepared! – Leigh Maneri, Campus Correspondent, Quinnipiac University

CNN, “Is an internship the new entry-level job?”
Members of the Her Campus Team
Andy Harber, Career consultant, Washington University in St. Louis