Phone Interviews

Congratulations! An employer would like to interview you! However, they are not requesting an in-person interview but a TELEPHONE INTERVIEW!

Increasingly, employers are using phone interviews as a cost effective and efficient way to screen candidates before inviting them in for a longer in-person interview, which may involve meeting with many employees and/or managers. A phone interview is usually 15-30 minutes long and is conducted by a member of Human Resources department and/or the hiring manager. There may be only one person interviewing you, or there might be several.

Most employers will schedule a pre-arranged interview time via email or phone. If an employer calls you unexpectedly to interview you on the spot, it is acceptable to say “now is not a good time.” Let them know you are eager to speak with them and ask what other time would work for them. This way you can prepare for the phone interview with an optimal outcome, an invitation for an in-person interview.

Before the Phone Interview

If you have a landline, use it to get the best reception. If you’ll be using your cell phone, make sure it is completely charged prior to the interview. Arrange for a quiet room, away from roommates, noisy backgrounds, and distractions. The Center for Career Development (CCD) has rooms available for telephone interviews. To reserve a room, call 617-353-3590.

As with any interview, take time to research the organization and the position. If you need help practicing for your phone interview, start with Handshake’s Big Interview. This is a 24/7 online tool accessible from the resources tab in Handshake. Also, our career counselors can help you sharpen your skills in one-on-one mock interviews. Jot down some questions you may want to ask at the end of the phone interview. Check out our website for suggestions of questions to ask.

During the Phone Interview

As in face-to-face interviews, the interviewer will not only pay attention to your answers, but also to your level of self-confidence, verbal communication skills, personality, and enthusiasm.


Speak clearly and slowly and smile through the phone! Ask the interviewer if he or she can hear you clearly.

Set up your space 10 minutes before the phone interview with a few items in front of you. First, have a copy of your resume and cover letter so you can easily reference your experience. Second, have a pen and paper for notes and questions. Third, have your prepared list of questions.

Lastly, have a cheat sheet of the skills, accomplishments, and information you want the interviewer to know about you.

If you need a minute to formulate an answer, please let the interviewer know. Silence does not work well over the phone.

At the end of the interview, you will be given a few minutes to ask the interviewer some questions (the ones you prepared ahead of time!). This will show the interviewer that you have done your homework about the organization and the position and make you a stronger candidate. Before hanging up, let the interviewer know how much you are interested in the position and ask about next steps. Ask for the contact information (address, email, phone number) for all the people who interviewed you to send a thank-you note and/or email.

After the Phone Interview

Write down any information that you will need to remember about the position or organization.

As with an in-person interview, write a thank-you note and/or email to all of the people on the other end of the phone. In addition to expressing appreciation for their time, reiterate why you feel you are a great fit for the position and that you welcome the opportunity for an on-site interview to further discuss your candidacy.

Phone interviews can be tricky since you are not able to see the interviewers’ facial expressions and body language. However, if you prepare well, you will certainly reach your goal: an in-person, on-site interview.


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