What Is A Telephone Interview And How Do You Prepare For It?

Until recently, most interviews were conducted face-to-face. But these days, many jobs are handled by telephone calls with job seekers. Not all employment applications list a phone interview as part of the hiring process which is why it can come as a surprise to some jobseekers. For others, its just convenient since they don’t need to travel for the in-person meeting and its possible for the company to interview large numbers of stimulus quickly.

What is a telephone interview?

A telephone interview is a private interview conducted over the phone. People who are unable to make it to an in-person interview for whatever reason can have this type of interview instead. Preparation for a telephone interview is similar to preparation for an in-person interview, mainly because you need to be able to talk on the phone as well as prepare questions and answers before the call.

Preparation for a telephone interview

Preparation begins before the call, with an initial research of the company. Most large companies will post all available applications on their website. Conducting a basic search will help save time from calling the company’s number and reaching a human operator. For those reviews that do not list open positions, agenda for what to discuss can be found in the individual’s job description or timed for the call itself when it arrives. Furthermore, take advantage of any previous connections by asking them what are some questions or topics about which I should prepare for this phone interview? Lastly obtain supplementary material on CEO/company with informational podcasts (provided through iTunes) or company blogs as well as complete physical documents in case a need arises to refer back to it while on the line.

Conventional vs. Phone Interviews

A phone interview may be conducted in person or over the phone. Typically, you can tell which type of interview you’re attending by knowing what questions they ask. If it’s still unclear, ask before or after the interview. A conventional phone interview can consist of a series of dialogues, from affirmative and negative to yes/no questions. The interviewer is predetermined by an employer for a telephone interview and doesn’t have to be the same person that initiated it. In a proscribed format, this interviewer would rely more on social skills than skill-specific knowledge as they guide the candidates through various topics planned on their agenda beforehand.
The conventional interview also usually takes place without video so it may be not appreciated for interpersonal communication strengths and weaknesses during a traditional face-to-face scenario. When using technology for interviewing, there are pros and cons to both types of interviews; an applicant should fold others into their decision process and with careful consideration make an informed decision when choosing between the two formats.

Telephone interviews are a type of job interview where the interviewer calls the applicant. There are two types of telephone interviews. The first is called a conventional assessment and it’s like any other interview. You’ll review answers to interview questions in advance which will be based on your resume or other qualifications In this type of interview, you should practice answering questions with your family or close friends so that you can determine what types of responses might best suit you and your situation. The second type is the phone screen-or screenerless call-where all the interviewer cares about is whether you can communicate clearly over the phone and whether they think you’d make a good in-person candidate In this type of interview, prepare by making sure that there’s no background noise, taking care not to interrupt while talking yourself, and keeping eye contact people experienced phoner might want to end the call early if your talking seems robotic or scripted. Be as friendly, honest and expressive as possible. A standard phone screen should last about 15 minutes both ways, while an in-person phone interview may be more than an hour. With a serious face, warm up the closer you come to the actual site, wait until he get there and I even have sometimes seen police just standing on the sidelines watching! These interviews can count toward the number of interviews that you need to complete on your way to med school.

Read More: What is an Interview? Types of Interviews

Choosing specific or general questions

Preparing for a phone interview involves prepping beforehand by coming up with possible questions to ask the caller and creating certain message points for yourself. In other words, you are about to have an important speaking opportunity on the phone, so it is wise to plan ahead.

  • Decide on a number of key questions you want to ask the caller related to your industry, talents, personality, or anything that shows off your knowledge and skills.
  • Think of two or three messages you want to say during the call that serve as a summary of what you’re selling or highlight various qualities with statements like “I have excellent communication skills” or “my degree teaches me how to handle tough customer negotiations.”
  • Practice these messages in front of a mirror until it feels natural and comfortable for you!

Often there are weeks or even months of preparing to do in order to be prepared for a phone interview. Using the right questions will help you with the process and make sure you get the information you need. Depending on the kind of job, specific questions might include those about soft skills, company culture, different responsibilities they have at the company and things like that.
There are four main types of questions – power questions, open-ended questions, closed-ended questions and follow up questions that can either be directed at giving general information or gathering more specific information. Power questions get you past the indifference, intrigue and interest of the candidate. These are the ones to use first in your interview-planning strategy.Open-ended questions speak for themselves. They allow candidates to say what they’re thinking about and help you understand what kind of person they really are. Closed ended questions are much easier for everyone involved because the interviewer knows exactly what kind of a response he is looking for and is then sure to get it. Follow up questions move conversations forward after the initial response, by exploring the response with more information gathered from other interviewees. When properly used in succession, these open and closed ended questions can help you break any wall while searching for applicable skills.If you have a specific skill or trait that interests you, ask the candidate to detail their abilities relating to that question. It’s important to remember that if the person is on your shortlist, they should already be able to demonstrate their capabilities without much prompting (otherwise, it won ’t even have gotten this far).It’s generally best to save the time-consuming, use up of a lot of time and energy, predictable follow ups questions until you get a feel for how well you can read the candidate. While not an exact science, there are some basic signals that indicate where prying further is unnecessary and will waste time.Closed ended questions:– Tell me about yourself.– What do you hope to accomplish with your career in the next five years? — Why do you want to work with us?– Tell me an example of a time that you really inspired others.Open ended questions:– What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses? (This is open ended, but in an expected way.)– If I asked your last boss what his/her biggest frustration was with you when working together, what do you think they would say?Structured vs. unstructured interviewsConversation style questions: This is the industry standard in most cases and allows the candidate to express their personality. This is often mentioned as the best way to gain an accurate impression of a candidates skills and attitudes.

Read More: What Is A Face-To-Face Interview And How Does It Work?

Avoiding the wrong impression with phone interviews

Do not make assumptions about people based on your phone conversation. Your tone should be able to convey your politeness, formality, and positivity regardless of your current emotional state. Make sure that someone is available to provide a valid reference for you in case this person needs verification. It’s advisable that you have some ideas on what types of questions are concerned in the company as well as about its goals and policies before embarking on this process.

Phone interviews are a useful tool to weed out candidates who could not make the in-person interview. Potential employees may feel hesitant when they first receive a call from a company because they don’t know what will happen. Tips for phone interviews are to have everything prepared before the call starts and it should be done in a quiet place using speakerphone or headphones if available. Use questions that are similar, but different, than those presented on their resume so that there is certainly a strong chance of them understanding the job description. The initial interview will be a time for potential employees and employers to meet in person. For those who feel that online video interviews are the way of the future, it is best to communicate everything through typing. This makes it so there are no misunderstandings and candidates won’t be left wondering what they should say or how things look to the employer on the other side of a computer screen.Be sure not to schedule too many job interviews in one day as this may overwhelm some job seekers and they may not think ahead and arrive to the meeting with a good dose of anxious nerves. Interviews are scheduled in advance, and it is possible that there may be some candidates who have already scheduled their interviews with other companies.


Overall, a telephone interview is helpful if you are willing to have your voice heard and not just a piece of paper with your resume. For this reason, there are many expert tips that might assist you in being confident but also professional.
Expert Tip: “Remember to speak clearly and distinctly. Consider rehearsing on the phone with a family member or friend to improve vocal tone, pacing and volume.”
Expert Tip: “When we feel self-conscious or under-confident it’s hard for us to project natural conversational body language like physical gestures or smiling.”
Expert Tip: “Work out what you’re going to say in advance by making notes on paper, which will enable you to feel more in control without looking down and away from the interviewer.”


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