In a conventional face-to-face interview, candidates are in the same room as the interviewer. With a telephone interview, however, you may even be in a different country. In these situations, many people find it harder to successfully sell their skills and experience to the hiring manager, but savvy job hunters know that sharp telephone interview skills can help them quickly rise above the competition. Ace the next phone screening you face by using the following strategies.

Record and listen to your voice

Contrary to what you may think, few people genuinely like the sound of their own voice, but it’s vital that you know and control what an interviewer can hear. The only way to do this is to record your voice and play back the recording. As painful as this sounds, this approach will give you the chance to spot and act upon obvious habits.

Things to look out for include:

  • Lots of “ums” and “ers” that destroy any impression of confidence
  • Throat clearing and/or sniffing
  • Dull/flat tone of voice
  • Inaudible speech

What you say is crucial, but you also need to deal with bad habits that affect how you say things.

Draw up cue cards

Cue cards can help you focus on the key words and phrases that you want to include during the screening. When you’re holding a telephone and concentrating on someone else’s voice, you may forget to mention some of your key skills and experiences.

Set up the ideal interview room

Telephone interviews should still take place in a good interview room. Distractions and background noise can interrupt the conversation, meaning you may not convey the professional image the recruiter is looking for. Make sure you have a comfortable chair, get rid of pets and children, and make sure nobody interrupts you once the interview starts.

Implement your best confidence-boosting tricks

Many people fail phone interviews because they sound as though they couldn’t care less. Popular strategies to avoid this include physical activity 30 minutes before the screening and warm-up exercises. Some candidates also like to use confidence poses. Adopt strong body language, good posture, and a warm facial expression and your confidence will shine through your voice on the phone line.

Know your interviewers

It’s always useful to know who you’re speaking to before the call. Get the names and job titles of all the attendees. This will help you to know where you need to provide more detail and specific answers. For example, if the head of compliance is on the call, you’ll need to show the interviewers that you understand any regulatory restrictions.

Look for your interviewers’ profiles on LinkedIn, too. A LinkedIn profile can help you understand more about the person’s communication style, enabling you to adapt your approach. A little research before the call can reap dividends when it’s your turn to speak.

Ensure understanding

At the end of the interview, link your last question to the body of the interview — to round off the conversation. For example, you could refer back to something somebody said and then ask a question about how this relates to company strategy. This technique shows how you think on your feet and adapt your thinking.

Phone screening interviews are seldom easy, and it takes time and patience to develop a winning technique. Adapt your style to the situation and you’ll soon learn how ace the process every time.

This post was originally published February 2016 and has been updated to be current in the new year.




  • Thaddaeus Brodrick, February 25, 2016 @ 11:05 am

    Controlling the call is where I lose this. My ADD acts up and I end up talking about things that are totally not relevant.

  • Michael Lewis, March 2, 2016 @ 11:14 am

    I love the Idea of having cue cards ready. Great article!

  • Maria Williams, March 14, 2016 @ 10:35 am

    I lilke the idea of recording my voice and listen to it. I noticed that sometimes I use a lot of “umm” and it doesn’t sound great and this is a great tip that I will apply for the future.

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