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21 Easy Phone Interview Tips From an Expert

Phone interviews are a necessary part of getting a job. A little while back we held a very successful networking event here at Pile and Company featuring Paul Bailo, MENG member, author of The Official Phone Interview Handbook and CEO of Phone Interview Pro: www.phoneinterviewpro.com. Paul captured the audience with a presentation on conducting a world class phone interview. Everyone left with real action items to improve their phone interviewing skills. I highly recommend picking up the book!

Here are 21 easy phone interview tips:

“Cliff Notes” from his presentation about phone interviews

1. Be Yourself – “At Your Best”

2. Prepare – Prepare – Prepare

3. Listen – Think – Speak

4. Confident – Professional – Assertive

5. Be Brief – Be Bold – Be Done

6. Speak Less; Listen More

7. Questions are more important than responses

(Things to do that seem incorrect…but they work!)

8. Pick up the phone on the 2nd or 3rd ring

9. Dress-up for a phone interview

10. Take a photo of someone to look at when you are talking to the person on the phone.

11. Write out your questions, things you want to say, answers to possible questions (no one will be able to see this piece of paper…use it)

12. Don’t ask for an e-mail address

13. Use Pauses (no longer then 15 seconds)

14. If you are interested in the position let the interviewer know. “I am very interested in this position and the opportunity to work at Acme Paper.”

(Things to do that seem correct…and are!)

15. Make sure you speak to someone else in the morning before the call and/or meeting–this will wake you up

16. Make sure you have done a lot of research about the company, the job and the industry

17. If you are speaking to the hiring manager, then know about him/her as well

18. Make sure you are polite and remember to say thank you

19. Use vivid words (be graceful; be clear)

20. Take notes

21. Listen Carefully

Many times the phone interview is the first “live connect,” so do it right.

Do you have any tips to add? Please share them in the comments – we’d love to hear from you.

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About Matt Gill

Matt Gill is the Managing Partner at MICA Consulting Group, a consulting and recruiting firm connecting people in Marketing, Interactive, Creative, and Advertising. He is a marketing recruiter across industries. If you think he can help with your job search, connect with him through the email, Twitter, or company links below.

9 Responses to "21 Easy Phone Interview Tips From an Expert"

  • Tim Tyrell-Smith
    November 3, 2010 - 09:38 Reply

    Hey Matt – Thanks for sharing these notes. It’s nice to hear the advice from someone who has focused so clearly on a single subject – and that phone interview is such a critical first step with a company. One piece of advice I really liked was “make sure you talked with someone else that AM” – makes sense to be social before you get on the phone!

    A few others I will add from my own experience:

    (1) Stand up and walk around as you talk. Loosens you up and leads to a more conversational interview

    (2) Smile. It exudes confidence and interest. Not stuffy or tight.

    Great helpful tips, Matt.

  • Richard Sellers
    November 3, 2010 - 10:03 Reply

    To often people underestimate the importance of phone interviews, which are pass-fail situations.

  • Matt Gill
    November 3, 2010 - 10:07 Reply

    Smile, Smile, Smile. I agree totally, thanks for your additional tips!


  • Matt Gill
    November 3, 2010 - 10:15 Reply


    You are entirely correct, the phone interview isn’t a “let’s chat and see what comes of it” there is a definite pass/fail with regards to next steps. Many candidates don’t prepare enough because they feel if it’s only a phone interview the hiring company isn’t serious. Not the case, they are trying to be efficient with their time. My internal recruiting colleagues estimate that 90% of all their hires start with a phone interview.


  • Julie Walraven | Resume Services
    November 3, 2010 - 12:29 Reply

    Excellent post, Matt and thanks Tim for being in the Google results with this post when a client called for Phone interview tips. It was great to have such a clear resource to walk through with her that dovetailed well with my own advice. The interview is this afternoon for a Sales Trainer position with a medical device company. This was perfect! Nice to meet you, Matt!

    • Tim Tyrell-Smith
      November 3, 2010 - 12:59 Reply

      Hey Julie – glad to help connect you to Matt’s post (and to MENG Blend – there’s more good stuff here every week!)

  • Matt Gill
    November 3, 2010 - 12:59 Reply


    Thanks for the compliment and glad it was useful. I hope your client does well!


  • Peter Engler
    November 8, 2010 - 16:00 Reply

    As phone interviews are so prevelant these days, these tips are spot on!

    I also urge clients, especially if they are 45-plus, to convey an easy-going but professional telephone persona by taking a “helpful” attitude. You don’t have to be the energetic whiz-kid you were at 26; you should now assume the confident role of an expert who can HELP the company and the executives rather than be perceived as too aggressive and risky.

  • Matt Gill
    November 9, 2010 - 08:56 Reply

    Peter, great point/tip. Unfortunately, many times the first phone interview is with a mid level hr/recruiter type, this approach is even more applicable with this audience.

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