How to Prepare for Your Next Phone Interview

Red corded phone with cord running off the right side of the screen.

While video interviews have surged over the past few years, phone interviews are still an important step in the interview process for many companies. Knowing what to expect and how to prepare may be the factor that propels you into the next round of interviews for your dream job.

Why Do Companies Use Phone Interviews?

Phone interviews are most often used as an introductory meeting and an initial screen to weed out unqualified candidates. They are typically short and sweet, often not exceeding 30 minutes (though there can be exceptions).

They are a great, efficient way for a company to see if you as the candidate are a good fit for the company and job opening. Additionally, it is a good opportunity for the candidate to get a feeling for the opportunity and see if it matches their goals and needs.

In the end, if one party doesn’t feel that it is a good match, no one’s time has been wasted. However, if there is a good fit, both the company and the candidate feel ready and willing to invest more time and effort into the process.

Note: If you work with a recruiting firm (such as us), introductory phone interviews are a common way to get engaged in the process.

How to Prepare:

1. Your Surroundings

  • Phone Charge: Make sure your phone is charged. The last thing you need to stress about during an interview is watching the percentage drain on your phone.
  • Connect Headphones or Headset: If you are planning to use headphones, make sure they are connected and charged beforehand.
  • Quiet Room: Find a quiet location that does not have any distractions.
  • Service: Double-check that the room you have selected to take the call in gets good service.
  • Voicemail: Make sure your voicemail message is professional. Sometimes weird things happen and a call will go straight to voicemail for no particular reason, so ensuring your outgoing message is professional is important.
  • Resume and Job Description Printed: Have a copy of your resume, the job description, and any other pertinent information that would be beneficial to have ready, should you need to reference it.

Optional Tip: Dress the Part: Even though the interviewer will not see you, sometimes it can be a confidence boost to dress as if you are in person or on video.

2. The Interview

  • Don’t Overtalk: Whether you overtalk due to nerves or you are just a long-winded person, be conscious of this during a phone interview. Answer the questions thoroughly without adding unnecessary information to your responses.
  • Don’t Talk Too Fast: Keep your answers clear, concise, and steady. If the interviewer has to ask you to repeat yourself, take a breath, and slow it down.
  • Be Prepared: Research the job and company before the call and be ready to answer questions about your experience as it relates to the requirements. Research potential interview questions and have answers prepared for them as well.
  • Actively Listen: Try not to let your mind wander due to nerves. Listen to the information that the interviewer is sharing. Taking notes can not only keep you engaged in the conversation but also help you recall that information later for your follow-up.
  • Keep it Conversational: Be ready for small talk if the conversation starts that way. Typically, initial phone interviews are more informal, so keeping a professional, but conversational tone is a plus.

Extra Tip: Don’t eat, drink, or chew gum during a phone interview. However, keep a glass of water handy in case you need it!

3. The Follow Up

  • Next Steps: Before ending the conversation, ask what the next steps are in the process so you have an idea of what to expect.
  • Send a Thank You note: Within 24 hours, send a brief thank you email to the interviewer. In the note, thank them for their time, recap why you are a fit, and offer to answer any follow-up questions.
  • Follow-up: If you don’t hear back from the interviewer within a week or two, follow up with them. Keep it short and sweet!

Extra Tip: If you decide that the opportunity is not a fit for you, communicate that to the interviewer. “Ghosting” a company or recruiter will burn that bridge, and you never know what the future holds!


We hope this checklist serves as a great preparation tool for your next phone interview. While there is no guarantee that you will move forward in the process, preparing yourself as much as possible will always put you one step ahead. We wish you luck!

If you are actively searching for a new role, check out our current job openings.