Tips for Conducting a Phone Interview

WRITTEN September 19, 2019 Author: Mark Fogel

An interview is a two-way exchange, a conversation, in which both participants have some goals.

Why a phone interview?

Phone interviews are a key method for collecting knowledge about a candidate before making the decision to bring them in for the in-person interview.

With the help of phone interviews, hiring managers, employers and HR professionals are able to improve their opportunities of discovering the ideal employeeby finding the candidates that stand out, while filtering out those who are not the right fit. Using the phone, they can do this even before scheduling a time-consuming face-to-face interview.

Use the tips below for conducting phone interviews effectively:

1. Have the tools ready

Make sure you have consistent and good connection. If recording the call, do a test run. Have a notebook, pen or other noting tools. Make sure you have the phone number and any other contact details in front of you.

2. Do your prep work

Learn about the candidate prior to the interview. Have in front of you: the resume and any additional details that may have come through an online application or such. Have the description of the job you are hiring for, and prepare questions on their experience as it relates to the position.

3. Send the candidate call details

Before the interview, provide complete details about the company, the people conducting the interview, and the required phone number. Sharing the plan is beneficial for all involved to smooth out the process.

4. Avoid distractions

Phone interviewing is not the time to text message someone or check e-mails. Eliminate the distractions that you know can disturb you, and focus on the interview.

5. Avoid talking too much 

Maintain the face-to-face interview principles, asking short questions and listening to the candidate. This is a filtering system for both candidate and interviewer. Keep it short and detailed. Wait for the in-person interview to ask more detailed questions.

6. Plan out the structure 

Have a structure for the interview so that you do not miss anything. Create a checklist to stay on track with the plan you have prepared. Note-taking is also helpful alongside the checklist to keep a record of their responses.

You see, an interview is a two-way process. Conducting a good interview is as crucial to selling the job just as it is for assessing the candidate’s eligibility. The best candidate will often have numerous offers and options. Being flexible and making it painless for them to speak to you helps to set up both sides for a win.


This information is from the Improving Communications classes on Behavioral Interviewing. If you’re looking for ways to improve your written or spoken communication skills, register for one of our public classes.

Photo by Pavan Trikutam on Unsplash

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