How to Ace the Phone Interview

If you want to know how to ace the phone interview, you’ll want to follow these tips. The phone interview is its own animal. It is different from the standard interview in several key was. By understanding these differences, you can ace it.


Most organizations use the phone interview exclusively for the first round screening. Yet, more and more are organizations are using the phone interview later in the hiring process.

Ask what type of interview you will participate in. Then invest the time to do the right kinds of interview research and create effective answers. Remember, how you prepare will have a big impact on your results.

Once you’ve got the preparation under your belt, you can focus your attention on the nitty-gritty details.  While it’s tempting to just take an informal call wherever it’s convenient, avoid it. Instead, you can take several actions to ensure you ace that phone interview.

Find the Perfect Location

First, have your interview in the right location. Find a quiet room clear of distractions. Remove anything that you know can draw away your attention, including other phone lines. If it’s noisy outside, shut open windows.

You’ll also want to talk from a clear desk and be in a generally clean and well-organized space.  Such a space will give you greater clarity as it decreases visual background noise.

Take the Right Mindset

Next, put yourself into a professional mindset. How you feel mentally will impact the way you speak and think. Consider wearing a suit or business attire to feel more professional. To make it easier to envision you are speaking with a real person, you may want a printed photo of your interviewer (pull from LinkedIn or Google images) or a photo of a professional that you would imagine you are speaking with.

Lay Out Phone Interview Tools

Then, set up your tools for the interview. Have a pen, pad, glass of water, a copy of your resume (in case they want you to “walk through it”), and information about the company.

One of the big advantages of a phone interview is that it can work like an open book test. You can craft a cheat sheet to help you ace every question.

If you do create notes, I recommend that you print them out. If possible skip the computer, as it can easily become a distraction. Remember, you want to stay 100% focused on your conversation.

Pick the Right Phone

When you make the call, use your best phone, the one least likely to disconnect or have background noise. Landlines have less static and interruptions than cell phones. But, if you are using a cell phone, make sure you are in a location with good reception.

Ace the Interview with a Confident Voice

When you are on the call, you need to keep the interviewer’s attention and not allow them to be distracted. Keep your answers short. Be sure to modulate your voice (no monotone), and insert questions into the conversation.

You also want to make sure that your voice is clear and doesn’t go dry. Keep your voice and mouth unobstructed. No gum or food. No fingernail biting or resting your chin on your hand. Consider consuming a throat lozenge with menthol an hour before the interview. This will cause you to breath easier (the menthol), reduce your risk of coughing, and smooth your voice.

Avoid the Pitfalls

Don’t make any other noise. The interviewer will hear you. Also avoid the speakerphone so that the interviewer doesn’t get too distracted by ambient noise. Also, try to avoid speaking directly in front of a wall as this can cause your voice to echo.

In addition, people sometimes forget to do something important while on the phone: breathe.  You may find yourself holding your breath to hear better. Yet, you need air to talk and to think. If you are having a hard time hearing or find yourself holding your breath, consider increasing the volume on your phone.

Now that you know how to ace the phone interview, I hope you sail through the second round with the same ease and land the job.


 Read more articles by Alan Carniol (See below)