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6 Tips for Conducting a Successful Entry-Level Phone Interview

With high national unemployment, businesses are receiving more resumes than ever before. Since conducting in-person entry level interviews takes time and valuable resources, many companies may elect to pre-screen job applicants through telephone interviews. Although a phone interview usually is not as pressure-filled as a face-to face job interview, it still is in your best interest to conduct the most professional and personable entry-level interview possible. Here is a guide to getting the most out of a telephone interview.

Six Tips For Conducting a Winning Telephone Interview

Prepare for a phone interview much as you would for a regular in-person job interview. Your chances of getting hired can increase dramatically if you get it right.

  1. Use a land line. This is NOT the time for a dropped call or poor communication. Cell phones often do not have connections as clear as regular phone lines, and it can be hard for the interviewer to hear your responses. If you only have a cell phone, as many people these days, find a calm, quiet place where you can conduct the interview. Your interview space should be free of radio, television and other bothersome noise.
  2. Keep your resume and cover letter in front of you. Your interviewer probably is looking at these items on his or her desk as you speak and might refer to certain items on your resume or in your cover letter. Keeping both documents front and center allows you to quickly discuss your career highlights, achievements, work history, schools and colleges attended, and education level with no stumbles in the conversation as you try to remember pertinent points.
  3. Make a cheat sheet and prepare questions for the interviewer. As with any job interview, if you ask smart questions about the job's responsibilities and duties, you sound prepared--and interested. Knowing what you are talking about could land you that crucial in-person interview. Job board Monster.com suggests crafting a crib sheet about the company, its competition, and the industry in general. Also, end the conversation by inquiring when you might hear back from the company--this simple question can negate long, angst-filled waiting times.
  4. Dress appropriately. Do not underestimate the importance of professional dress, even though you won't be seen. Proper appearance places job seekers in positive psychological state of mind and can lead to a more professional, confident telephone interview.
  5. Prepare answers to common interview questions. Telephone screenings are not much different than regular job interviews. Common questions may include your goals, why you left your last position, why you are a good fit for the company and so on. Research common interview questions and prepare answers beforehand to keep the conversation rolling smoothly.
  6. Listen. This is an extremely important part of good communication. Don't control the conversation. Answer questions appropriately, but with brevity, and keep your tone professional and courteous. Let the interviewer speak about the position and your role, and if you have questions, make a note and ask them when the interviewer has finished speaking.

A report on telephone interview preparation by Florida State University also suggests these points:

  • Have a glass of water nearby
  • Address the interviewer by name
  • Sit erect or stand during the interview
  • If the job sounds great, say so--the interviewer cannot read your body language

Lastly, remember that this is just a screening. Try not to be super gung-ho and overzealous. Your goal here should be to get a foot in the door and meet the employer for an in-person interview.