Ask the Experts

How to Nail a Phone Interview

3 Min Read
Ciara   |   August 26, 2020

Phone interviews are just as important as any other interview, and they are fast becoming the new normal for every company in the world - well beyond the initial screening call.

As an HR tech platform - remote onboarding is our bread and butter. The phone interview is a style we’ve been perfecting for 3 years now, and I’ve learnt a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t. In this post, I’ve pulled together some of my top tips for jobseekers today to make sure they are set up for success, and able to showcase themselves to the best of their ability through an audio-only platform. 



Timing is everything, and if your interviewer has called at a difficult time, don’t be afraid to say so! It’s totally OK to ask for a callback if you get caught off guard, or at a bad time. Recruiters would much rather you suggested a better time, then have a conversation where there’s constant interruptions or distractions in the background. 


As soon as you start engaging with a company you’re applying for - take the time to research and the role itself. Make sure you’re across their Missions and Values so that you can express your passion for the company and start to think about why you are a great fit ahead of that very first call. 


Tone of Voice

Your interviewer is unable to see your face, and this means that they are going to be extra tuned into your tone of voice. Take a moment to get in the right frame of mind beforehand if you can, make sure you are in a safe and quiet environment where you feel as comfortable as possible and have a glass of water to hand if you know that you might get a tickly throat and find it difficult to articulate yourself. 


Even if you don’t feel totally at ease, a calm and upbeat tone of voice is essential as your interviewer tries to gain an insight into the type of person you are. ‘Fake it til you Make it’ as they say - and if you can come across as energetic and positive, with a can-do attitude you will be proposing yourself as a productive team player who would be a great addition to any team. 


Speak clearly and be conscious to slow down your words because most of us speed up our normal pace when we’re nervous. Take a deep breath and have a pause to think about your response before you answer. Chances are your answer will come across a lot better than if you launch into a response immediately. 




A key part of communication is listening. In your phone interview, make sure you practise ‘Active Listening’ - a technique which requires you to fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said. Active listening also means showing active signs of interest in, and comprehension of the interviewer. In face to face interactions, non-verbal signs of active listening can include nodding, smiling and maintaining eye contact, but of course none of these can be translated on the phone. A simple “Yes” or “Mmm hmm” can serve as a verbal sign in this case.  


It is important to answer questions accurately. Techniques that may help you with this are Repetition and Clarification. Repeating a summary of what has been asked back to the interviewer in your own words gives you a chance to show that you have absorbed and understood what is being asked logically and clearly, and also buys you a little extra time to craft your answer.  


Be Professional

Remember, if you are successful you could end up representing the brand so keep this in mind with your responses. While it's great to be personal and honest, remember that you’re applying for a job, not having a chat with a friend. That means maintaining a professional air - no swearing or bad-mouthing previous companies!


Hirers can spot (and hear!) lies or inaccuracies a mile away. Transparency is key in all interviews, not just telephone interviews. A lie told in a phone interview will only come up again and lead to embarrassment. Try to stick to real-life examples and be as accurate as possible. For example, instead of saying “I always meet my KPIs” give an example of what specific metric you worked towards and how you achieved it. 


Be Yourself!

Finally, be yourself. You have the best chance to succeed in your career if you believe in yourself, know your capabilities and are able to articulate your thoughts to your team. If you have the confidence to present yourself truthfully and honestly, the interview will have a better chance of identifying that you are the right person for the job. 


Now go ahead and nail that phone interview! For more tips and tricks on how to be a great employee, head to the Weployee blog here

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