Gearing up for a Phone Interview

by Claire Schmieder, Head Editor, INALJ New Jersey

Gearing up for a Phone Interview

ClaireSchmiederI recently had my first ever phone interview. Obviously, I was excited – and seriously nervous. (I am not what you would call a “phone person.”) The only way for me to relax enough for the phone call was to prepare like crazy. Here’s how I got myself ready for the interview.



Before the interview:

I printed out a hard copy of the job description, my cover letter, and my resume. Because I was going to be on the phone, I knew I’d have the luxury of spreading out papers on a larger surface. I planned on using them to cross off topics that we’d discussed and to take notes during the interview.  And, hard copies ensured that I wouldn’t be switching back and forth between documents on my computer screen and that I’d be prepared in case of a power/internet outage or computer failure.

I made sure my house would be quiet so I wouldn’t get distracted. Kids at school? Check. Husband at work? Check. Dog (who’s got a barking problem) in the backyard? Check.

I decided to dress up a little. Or, rather, not wear pajamas. Since this interview was scheduled for the morning, I could have easily done it in PJs. But, I knew I’d feel more confident and put together if I was wearing business casual clothes.

During the interview:

No rambling! No interrupting! Because neither I nor the interviewer could gauge each other’s body language, it was more difficult for both of us to sense the natural breaks in the conversation. Just because the person on the other line is quiet did not mean that I needed to keep talking. If I felt like I’d sufficiently answered their questions, then I stopped talking.

Smile. At least one study has shown that smiling positively affects the tone and pitch of your voice. So even though it felt goofy to smile at an empty room, I did it anyway.

Here are some additional articles on phone interviews that I found helpful while preparing for my own:

17 Tips to Ace Your Next Phone Interview

How to Ace a Job Interview on the Phone

Got a Phone Interview? Make It Awesome, Not Awkward

Do you do anything special to prepare for phone interviews?

  7 comments for “Gearing up for a Phone Interview

  1. Jodi
    November 5, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Oh, also, I did a phone interview in pajama bottoms and a really nice, spanking new shirt once. It went great! I was comfortable enough to have a conversation yet had the confidence provided by looking smart. I will definitely try this again. (Not recommended for Goto Meeting!)

    • Claire Schmieder
      November 22, 2013 at 12:27 am

      I did the same thing! Yoga pants and a business casual blouse. I was comfy and felt professional at the same time. Win-win. 🙂

  2. Jodi
    November 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    I had my very first webcam interview via Goto Meeting recently. It was awful! I use Goto Meeting regularly but not with video. I didn’t have a lot of time to practice my webcam skills so I was terribly distracted by how bad I looked and how little mannerisms that might be overlooked in person really stand out on video. Practice, practice, practice.

  3. November 5, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    If you can, use a landline since cell phones can be a bit risky. I didn’t have one at home when I was job searching, so I had to get creative and ask to borrow someone else’s–my former boss’ office, the career service office at my school when it was closed, etc. And with my last phone interview–I got the job! 🙂 Also, write down questions when you are asked them so you can use the same vocabulary if possible.

    • Claire Schmieder
      November 22, 2013 at 12:26 am

      Every single article I read about phone interviews suggested using a land line…except I don’t have a home land line. I made due with my cell phone and stayed in a room that I knew (from prior experience) had good reception and no weird echoing.

      Writing down the questions is a great idea. Thanks for the suggestion!

  4. Sherry Cortes
    November 4, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Sitting at your home desk or at the kitchen table as though you were face to face with an interviewer helps keep you on track during the conversation, I have found! But yes, make sure outside noises are next to none.

    • Claire Schmieder
      November 22, 2013 at 12:30 am

      I was certain that my dog would start barking because he heard a car honking or a door slamming or a bird chirping, so I put him in our fenced-in backyard. Lo and behold, he totally started barking at nothing while I was on the phone. I was so relieved that I remembered to put him outside.

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