How to handle telephone interviews

While everybody in this day and age seems to dread phone calls, an over-the-phone interview can actually be fairly easy, providing that you stay calm, and follow these guidelines.


Before the date of your interview, research the company you’re hoping to work for so that you’re prepared if they ask you questions regarding what you know about the company, or why you want to work there. I cannot stress enough how useful it will be to have a few notes in front of you when you pick up the phone. If there’s any questions that you’ve been asked in previous interviews that have thrown you, jot down an answer to those in order to avoid that happening again, as well as some commonly asked questions. 

If you’re feeling especially nervous, it might be worthwhile to have a family member or friend go through a mock interview with you, so that you get used to answering questions that you haven’t prepared for.  Try to make the practice as realistic as possible so that you feel as ready as you could be.


Though it’s difficult, try to convey yourself as being a confident person. In order to do so, ensure that you’re in a comfortable, familiar (but quiet) environment, and have no distractions. Rather than trying to multitask, just focus on the person at the other end of the call, as well as your breathing if you’re feeling rather anxious. Don’t forget that you’re trying to make yourself look like the perfect employee, so don’t be self-deprecating – try to be the epitome of confidence instead.  Speak up. 

While you’re talking, ensure that you’re using correct grammar throughout. This is essential for many jobs, and you need to be understood by whoever is listening to you speak. If you have a thick accent, try to speak as clearly as possible, just in case the listener isn’t familiar with your accent or dialect. When you answer, say “hello” instead of “hey”, if you normally would. Also, remember to refer to the interviewer as ‘Mr.’ or ‘Ms.’ unless they have allowed you to refer to them by their forename.

Be the best listener possible. Leave a second’s gap or so between the end of their sentence and your response, so that you don’t end up talking over the interviewer and coming across as being rude or impatient. You need to seem attentive throughout, and patience is a virtue.

It may be useful to dress as though you’re attending a face-to-face interview, so that you’re really focused and in the correct mindset. Ensure that you look well-kept: your hair, nails, makeup, etc. If you look the part, you’ll feel the part. Sit up straight too – this not only helps to create the atmosphere of a formal situation, but it helps to make you sound better as well.  Additionally, it’s a good idea to speak with a smile on your face. Although you might think that you look ridiculous, people can hear you smile, so it will make sure that you sound upbeat and enthusiastic about the position.

If it would put you at ease, make notes throughout the conversation, so that you don’t miss anything important. The interviewer might ask you if you have any enquiries at the end of the call, and your notes would serve as a reminder of anything important you need to ask about. Don’t bombard them with questions about the salary, for example, as those questions could be asked in a follow-up face-to-face interview. Instead, don’t be afraid to ask about what would follow your call. You can even ask for feedback on their opinion of you if it would reassure you, but you obviously don’t have to do this. 

Referring back to confidence, don’t show signs of hesitation. Saying “erm” or taking a long time to respond will make you seem very unsure and unprepared. Instead, ask for a moment to think if you require it and even ask the interviewer to rephrase the question if you’re especially unsure. 

Despite being on the phone, don’t forget who you’re talking to. Colloquial vocabulary and inappropriate jokes are not acceptable, and neither is lying. Just because you’re not in front of the person, it doesn’t mean that you can lie about your qualifications, skills, or medical records, you’d soon get found out.


Staying calm is the key to a successful phone interview. Be prepared, and you’ll sail through the conversation. Portray yourself as the best version of you, that’s all there is to it. Good luck! 

Post by Georgia Foote.

Hi, I’m Georgia. I’m an oversized cardigan and makeup enthusiast, with a love for pouring my heart out on paper, and watching The Handmaid’s Tale on repeat.