Interview Tips


Many employers conduct telephone interviews to screen candidates for basic qualifications.  It is also an alternative when it is not practical to invite an out-of-area candidate to the office.

Telephone interviews can be challenging because it is more difficult to gain rapport with the interviewer because you cannot see the interviewer's non-verbal reactions and cues.  Conversely, the interviewer cannot see your enthusiastic expressions or professional appearance.  This places all the weight on your phone manners, clarity of speech, voice tone and the content of your answers. 

Here is a quick tip list for excelling at a telephone interview:
  • It's an exchange of information to determine mutual interest.  The only goal is to get a face-to-face interview. 
  • Research the company.  Prepare a list of questions you must have answers to before you would go to a face-to-face meeting.
  • Prepare a list of your strong qualifications for this position, things you want to say about yourself.
  • Take/Make the call in a quiet area:  no ringing phones, kids, barking dogs, radio, dishwasher, etc.  Do not use a cell phone if at all possible.  You want the best voice quality and no disconnections. 
  • Have resume, paper, pen, your questions, your qualifications & a glass of water handy. 
  • If you are making the call, call a minute or two before the scheduled time.  If you are expecting a call, make a call yourself to the other person, after waiting 5 minutes beyond the scheduled time.
  • Speak clearly & confidently.  Don't speak so fast the listener can't grasp what you're saying.  Smile.  The listener can hear it in your voice.  Project confidence, and enthusiasm.  Employers want people who are enthusiastic and want to work for them.  They can't see you and have to rely on verbal feedback.  Paint a vivid and clear word picture to keep the listener interested.  Use specific numbers. 
  • Ask why questions if asked something that is unclear or surprises you.  Do not try to evade an answer.  If you don't know, tell them you'll get the answer and call them back.  
  • Always answer questions with a feature/benefit response.  Explain how that feature about you will benefit the listener.
  • Answer the question but don't go beyond the question asked.  Ask 'was that what you were looking for?  Is there anything else you'd like to know?"
  • Don't use phrases or words that exude uncertainity or timidity. For example, "I think," "I could," "I might," and "probably."  Use positives that exude strength and confidence such as "I know," "I will," and "I can." 
  • If you think of questions while the other person is speaking, write them down so you can ask later.  Don't interrupt.  As questions are answered and points on your list are covered, cross them off so you don't ask about it again.
  • Toward the end, you may have some uncrossed items.  You can say something like, "I thought you might be interested to know that I successfully launched new products into the same channels you use and exceeded the plan by 23%."
  • Do not discuss compensation.  That is only appropriate at the end of a face-to-face meeting when they know you and you know everything about the job and company.  If you can't avoid the question, do not be reluctant to say what you are currently making.
  • Definitely ask the interviewer to tell you where you stand at the end of the interview and what the next step is and have them clarify when they will be prepared to take the next step with you.
  • State how you feel and ask how they feel. 
  • State, if true, that you have no reservations about your ability to do this job well.  Ask if they have any reservations.
  • Do not hang up until the interviewer has hung up.
  • E-mail/fax letter to interviewer the same day that thanks them for their time, expresses your interest, a list strong qualifications, and close with a follow up. 



  • Prepare:  Research company, haircut, dry clean clothes, trial interview, prepare your response to their "MUST HAVE" criteria for this position.
  • Re-confirm interview day the day before (usually we do this).
  • Interview starts once you get close to location.  Be prepared & on your best behavior.
  • Arrive early, but DON'T go in until about 10 minutes before appointment.
  • An interview is the same as any sales or business meeting.  Its purpose is to determine the needs of both parties and to move closer to a decision.
  • Bring a neat notebook or portfolio with your important papers (4 copies of your resume, your 'cheat sheet' of questions, copies of special recognitions/awards, etc.).
  • Exchange business cards to get valuable information for later use.
  • When possible, pick best position in the interview room.
  • CONSUME NOTHING!  No coffee, cokes, or water. Do this before the interview.
  • Take out your notepad and questions.  Offer resume and accomplishments.  Have backup material with you.
  • Establish chemistry.  Break the ice.  Eye contact is very important. Smile.
  • If appropriate, pre-close (assuming everything goes well, What will happen today?)
  • Be confident.  NO WIMP WORDS. Don't play poker, show enthusiasm.  Take credit for YOUR accomplishments, but give credit to team members when joint effort.
  • Provide feature and benefits (to the listener).  Be sure to stress that you possess the 'must haves' for this position.
  • Salary - be prepared to answer.
  • Be prepared for common questions: Tell me about yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Do you have any questions?
  • Close for decision.  What exactly is the next step?
  • If appropriate and the opportunity looks excellent to you, thank them for the interview and that if they go your way, what your availability will be.
  • Prepare and fax / mail / email a brief thank-you follow-up letter.
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