Phone Interview: Everything You Need to Know

Phone interviews are part and parcel of the modern day interview process, where interview consist of multiple stages and two to three rounds of interview. The phone interview is usually the first step in a multi stage interview process. Therefore it’s vital to be able to give a strong phone interview performance to ensure that you are able to continue through to the next round of the interview process. Below I have put together some of my top phone interview tips and answer some of the most popular FAQ to help improve your interview performance on the phone.

How to prepare for phone interview?

Phone interviews in theory should be easier then a regular face-to-face or a video interview over Teams, Zoom or Skype. Since the elements of your body language, posture and facial expressions don’t play a factor in to the interview performance. However, on the flip side the importance of your voice becomes more of a factor, such as it’s intonation and inflection. Therefore, one of my top pieces of phone interview advice is to make sure that you practice before your phone interview to ensure that you’re able to increase the dynamism of your intonation and inflection to maximise the impact of your voice. This is particularly important especially if you have a monotone voice.

Secondly, it’s an important to phone interview tip to utilize the advantages that come with being on the phone, with is the fact that they can see you. Therefore make sure that you have your notes in front of you to help you. However, in saying that it’s important to offer a note of caution in our job interview coaching sessions, we recommend that you don’t have too many notes. This is because in the pressurised environment of an interview having too much information can also become problematic and a case of ‘information overload’ can result in going blank during the interview. So in this instance, less is more. Have a single sheet of paper to hand with all your notes clearly laid out, so it’s easily accessible and understand in the intensity of an interview.

How to answer a phone interview?

Phone interviews have many similarities to a normal face to face interview. However the main difference is that the interviewer cannot see you, therefore where answering during a phone interview, it’s important to exhibit the right level of positive energy across the call. This means varying the intonation and inflection for your voice so that you can channel the right level of charisma over the phone. We pay particular attention to this in our executive interview coaching programme, since charisma and gravitas are two important elements which need to be conveyed during the interview process.

How to do well in a phone interview?

This a common question that I get asked all the time when it comes to phone interviews. As a coach who trains many professionals for interviews, as I always say “preparation is key”. This means preparing your answers beforehand, whether fully writing them out in paragraph format then condensing it down in to bite sized bullet points. Also practising your answers aloud, recording yourself and learning from the feedback to a phone mock interview with a friend. Through this process your phone interview preparation process you will be able to remember your answers but also showcase the right levels of intonation and inflection in your voice.

What is a phone interview?

Phone interviews are usually the first step of a multi-stage interview process. They’re usually used as a screening interview to filter out the much weaker performing candidates at the earliest stage possible. This therefore allows companies to interview more candidates, this is a positive things especially if you don’t have a strong CV or Resume as companies might still consider for the initial screening. A first stage phone interview is usually conducted by someone within the HR (Human Resources) department, however on occasions can be conducted by your direct line manager.

If the direct line manager is calling the interview may possibly be less of a structured interview and more of a ‘getting to know more about you’ interview. Questions like tell me about yourself, why have you applied for this role, talk me through some of the projects you’ve worked on are likely to come up. One of my top pieces of phone interview advice is to make sure that you’ve studied your own CV and know what’s on it and also make sure that you know specifics details about projects or pieces of work that you’ve been involved in. This will then allow you to be able to traverse any tricky or specific questions the line manager might ask.

If you have a phone interview with HR , expect it to be more of a standard behavioural interview. Where you’ll be required to answer the questions using the STAR (Situation/Task, Action, Result) method. However if it is the hiring manager then expect more variety in the types of questions. There might enquire about your technical knowledge (if it’s a technical role i.e. engineering, developer, surveyor, legal etc.) as well as ask you “talk me through your CV” therefore one of my top phone interview tips is to make sure you find out who the interview is and their role, so that you can adapt your preparation approach.

How long do phone interviews last?

Phone interviews typically shorter than the average face to face or video interview. This is particularly the case if this is the first stage of a multiple stage interview process. The time can typically be around 30 minutes however they can also be as short as 15minutes. Therefore with the shorter nature of the interview, it’s very unlikely the interview is going have a lot of depth. Questions are likely going to consist of your classic ice breaking questions such as “why have you applied for this role”, strength based questions such as “what motivates you” behavioural questions such as “provide an example where you’ve had to work under pressure to meet a deadline”.

Farhan Raja

I'm Farhan, the Founder and Coach at, one of the world’s leading Career and interview Coaching specialists. Bringing over a decade of industry experience and a passion for guiding individuals in their career journeys. As an Interview and Career Coach, I've authored the eBook '10 Simple Steps to CV & Resume Success,' directed a leading UK CV writing specialist, and pioneered the iPREP interview coaching methodology.

My career and interview coaching has spanned over 10 years across diverse industries, from IT giants like Google and Microsoft to vital sectors like Civil Service & NHS, Pharma, Finance, Engineering, Automotive, Construction, Logistics, Banking, and Management Consulting. I've had the privilege of assisting professionals in presenting their best selves, and targeting roles at renowned companies like Amazon, GSK, EY, Shell, Rolls Royce and more.

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