How to set up a phone interview

How to set up a phone interview

Did you know that you have more control than you probably realize over your phone interview? Many job seekers don’t. It’s easier than you think to exercise a little power over your phone interview, and when you do, you’ll have a much better outcome. Here’s how to set up a phone interview.

Control the Time and Day of Your Interview

In the best-case scenario, you’ll get a call or email to schedule your phone interview. Choose a day and time that works best for you. If you’re a morning person, schedule it as early as possible. If not, see if you can schedule it for later in the afternoon. Set an appointment that works for you.

If the company calls to talk right then, it’s OK to say, “I’m happy that you called. I’d love to talk now, but I really can’t give this the attention it deserves right now. Can we talk [insert a good time for you]?” In most cases, they’ll be fine with that. (If not, just do your best.)

Research the Company and the Interviewer

Finding out as much as you can about the company and the interviewer will make you significantly more impressive in your phone interview. You’ll deliver stronger answers and ask better questions based on what you learn.

Where should you research? Start with the corporate website, do a Google search for news or articles, find them on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter), and ask your network for anything they can tell you.

Prepare and Practice Answers to Common Interview Questions

Before every interview (not just phone interviews), you should think about how you’ll answer common interview questions and then practice saying your answers out loud. You can work with an interview coach or even just record yourself to see how you sound to others.

Being able to deliver strong answers easily will make you sound more confident to your interviewer. Don’t read your answers word for word, though. Practice them ahead of time and you’ll sound smooth and natural.

Set Up Cheat Sheets

The great thing about phone interviews is that you can set up as many papers and notes as you want to. My advice is to lay out paper copies in front of you on your desk or table. Lay them out so you don’t have to shuffle them and make noise. Plus, printed copies are better than clacking away at your computer (noise) and maybe even having your computer decide to update or conk out on you.

What should you use for Cheat Sheets? A copy of your resume, a list of questions to ask, a list of points you want to make about yourself, written out answers to typical interview questions, and blank paper (with a pen) so you can take notes.

Be in a Good Spot for a Phone Conversation

The best place for any phone interview is in a quiet room in your home. At home, you get to control the noise level and who can enter the room (no one). Public places are too risky for noise and interruptions. Pick a quiet spot with no distractions.

BTW – If you’re using a cell phone, make absolutely sure your phone is charged and that you have good reception. It’s even a good idea to make a call to a friend a few minutes before to make sure everything’s good to go.

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It’s very important to prepare for phone interviews because these are a gating process for…

Table of Contents

  1. Phone Interview – Tip 1 — Check Your Voicemail Greeting
  2. Phone Interview – Tip 2 — The Best Time to Set Up Your Call
  3. Phone Interview – Tip 3 — Where’s the Best Place for a Phone Interview?
  4. Phone Interview – Tip 4 — How To Keep Your Focus
  5. Phone Interview – Tip 5 — How to Build Your Confidence
  1. Phone Interview – Tip 6 — How to Project Enthusiasm
  2. Phone Interview – Tip 7 — Use Cheat Sheets
  3. Phone Interview – Tip 8 — Research the Interviewer
  4. Phone Interview – Tip 9 — Research the Company
  5. Phone Interview – Tip 10 — Prepare Answers to Common Phone Interview Questions
  1. Phone Interview – Tip 11 — Practice Your Phone Interview
  2. Phone Interview – Tip 12 — How to Hit Your Phone Interview Goals
  3. Phone Interview – Tip 13 — The Best Phone for Your Phone Interview
  4. Phone Interview – Tip 14 — Your Phone Interview Voice
  5. Phone Interview – Tip 15 — How to Give the Interviewer What They’re Looking For
  1. Phone Interview – Tip 16 — How to Project the Right Image Over the Phone
  2. Phone Interview – Tip 17 — Help Them Qualify You for the Face-to-Face Interview
  3. Phone Interview – Tip 18 — Speak the Right Body Language
  4. Phone Interview – Tip 19 — Secret Tricks to Phone Interview Success
  5. Phone Interview – Tip 20 — Ask Questions
  1. Phone Interview – Tip 21 — How to Listen Well
  2. Phone Interview – Tip 22 — Don’t Talk Too Much
  3. Phone Interview – Tip 23 — Watch Your Language
  4. Phone Interview – Tip 24 — Phone Interview Etiquette
  5. Phone Interview – Tip 25 — Getting the Face-to-Face Interview
  1. Phone Interview – Tip 26 — How and When to Follow Up
  2. Phone Interview – Tip 27 — Biggest Phone Interview Mistakes
  3. Phone Interview – Tip 28 — Small Phone Interview Mistakes That Cause Big Problems
  4. Phone Interview – Tip 29 — Things You Should Never Say
  5. Phone Interview – Tip 30 — Make a Phone Interview Checklist
  1. Phone Interview – Tip 31 — Relax, Be Calm, and Make a Good Impression
  2. Phone Interview – Tip 32 — Good Telephone Communication Tips
  3. Phone Interview – Tip 33 — Typical Phone Interview Questions
  4. Phone Interview – Tip 34 — Thank You Notes
  5. Phone Interview – Tip 35 — The One Question You Should Ask
  6. Phone Interview – Tip 36 — How to Keep Them From Screening You Out
  7. Phone Interview – Tip 37 — How to Prepare for a Phone Interview

Click to expand question sets, then click individual questions to read the post.

Have you ever bombed a phone interview? Are you afraid you might? Or do you…

This is a phone interview email template to use during your hiring process. Once you’ve evaluated your candidates’ resumes, you can conduct screening calls to help you choose candidates to go through to the second interview phase.

How to set up a phone interviewWhen writing this email, it’s best to make sure your subject line clearly communicates that you’re sending a phone interview invitation. (Otherwise candidates may assume the worst and not open your message.) Keep your message brief. Mention the position you’re interviewing for and the timeframe for the interview. You may also use the same template for a video or Skype interview. You can customize this phone interview email template to give a more casual or formal tone, depending on your company culture. You can confirm the interview using our phone interview confirmation template.

Looking to save time with the interview process? Sign up for our 15-day free trial of Workable’s end-to-end recruiting software and start hiring better people, faster.

Phone interview email template

Email subject line: Invitation to phone interview – [Company_name] / Phone interview with [Company_name] for the [Job_title] position

Hi [Candidate_Name] / Dear [Candidate_Name],

Thank you for applying to [Company_name].

My name is [your name] and I’m a recruiter/the hiring manager. I would like to have a phone discussion about your application for the [Job_title] role.
I’d like to tell you more about [Company_name] and get to know you a bit better.

Would you be available for a short introductory phone call [give a specific timeframe – like, early next week]?

Looking forward to hearing from you,

All the best / Kind regards,

  • Here is the list with the best interview questions to ask.
  • Use our phone screening interview questions to determine your strongest candidates.
  • Learn how startups and growing companies can establish an effective interview process.
  • Learn how Workable’s recruitment software can help with interview preparation.
  • Advice on how to invite a candidate to an interview.
  • Good interview questions to ask candidates in the second round

Table of Contents

  1. Phone Interview – Tip 6 — How to Project Enthusiasm
  2. Phone Interview – Tip 7 — Use Cheat Sheets
  3. Phone Interview – Tip 8 — Research the Interviewer
  4. Phone Interview – Tip 9 — Research the Company
  5. Phone Interview – Tip 10 — Prepare Answers to Common Phone Interview Questions
  1. Phone Interview – Tip 16 — How to Project the Right Image Over the Phone
  2. Phone Interview – Tip 17 — Help Them Qualify You for the Face-to-Face Interview
  3. Phone Interview – Tip 18 — Speak the Right Body Language
  4. Phone Interview – Tip 19 — Secret Tricks to Phone Interview Success
  5. Phone Interview – Tip 20 — Ask Questions
  1. Phone Interview – Tip 26 — How and When to Follow Up
  2. Phone Interview – Tip 27 — Biggest Phone Interview Mistakes
  3. Phone Interview – Tip 28 — Small Phone Interview Mistakes That Cause Big Problems
  4. Phone Interview – Tip 29 — Things You Should Never Say
  5. Phone Interview – Tip 30 — Make a Phone Interview Checklist

Click to expand question sets, then click individual questions to read the post.

Your browser does not support the HTML5 video tag.

Sometimes you’ll get a call just to schedule the phone interview, and that’s great. But sometimes you’ll get a call and they want to talk right then. It is perfectly acceptable (and really, it’s in your best interest) to say, “Hey, I’m so glad you called. I would love to be able to talk to you now, but I’m really not going to be able to give this the attention it deserves right at this moment. Can we talk tomorrow morning?” (Or whenever a good time for you is.) Every once in a while, you’ll be speaking to someone who thinks it’s a good strategy to catch people off guard, and this won’t work. If that happens, I can’t help you. You’ve got to talk.

How to set up a phone interviewMost of the time, hiring managers are pretty flexible when it comes to scheduling a phone conversation. It’s not that big a deal…most of the time. If for some reason they are not flexible, you just have to bite the bullet and agree to whatever time they ask for.

But assuming you get the choice, always schedule your interview for the time of day you are most alert and on your game. I personally would never, ever schedule a phone interview for the first thing in the morning. I need a little while to warm up first. On the other hand, I have a friend who is at her most chipper in the wee hours. So for her, earlier is better.

You might be stuck with asking for a general time of day to have the call, but very often you can request a specific time for your call. It’s just like setting an appointment for a face-to-face interview. You’d have a set time for that one, so it’s not a problem to set a time to be on the phone. In fact, it shows that you’re a good time manager.

When you do schedule your call, make sure you leave yourself a nice big cushion of time after the call, in case it runs over. Some managers will tell you it will be a 10-minute call, and they stick to it. They have a set of questions, they go through the questions, and they’re done. But I’ve known many phone interviews to start off with a 10-minute time limit and go over to 20, 30, or even 45 minutes.

I just want you to remember that phone interviews are a very important step in the interview and hiring process. You’re not guaranteed a face-to-face interview just because they called you. But you can take steps to gain some advantages in this conversation, and timing is one of them.

How to set up a phone interview

How to set up a phone interview

Scheduling interviews may not be the hardest part of hiring. But, investing some effort to make your process more efficient will help you save time and improve your candidate experience.

Here are some tips on how to invite a candidate to an interview:

How to invite a candidate for interview by phone

Communicating with candidates by phone makes your approach more personable. But, when your purpose is to schedule an interview, phone calls can create confusion. People may forget what was said if they were in a hurry or didn’t take notes. Also, candidates may feel uncomfortable taking this type of call if they’re at work.

Email is more convenient and allows you to provide details about your interview process. State your purpose and your company’s name in the subject line to ensure that candidates will open your email.

After your initial email, you could send a text to confirm candidates’ appointments or send them directions to your offices.

Be flexible with your time

Group interviews and assessment centers are usually held at fixed times. But, one-candidate interviews can be flexible. Let candidates pick a time when they will be free of other responsibilities and able to focus on their interview. To avoid an avalanche of back-and-forth emails, give candidates various times to choose from in your first message.

If you’re inviting remote candidates (e.g. for a video interview), they may be in a different time zone than your interviewers. Scheduling tools, like online calendars, will probably convert invitations to the right time zone. But if you’re adding time-slots manually, make sure to double-check.

Move the right people forward faster

Easily collaborate with hiring teams to evaluate applicants, gather fair and consistent feedback, check for unconscious bias, and decide who’s the best fit, all in one system.

Craft informative interview invitation emails

When writing an interview invitation email, include:

How to set up a phone interview

Use email templates

Communicating with candidates calls for a personalized approach most of the time, but you don’t have to start from scratch. Modifying a template to schedule an interview can save you time. Here’s a sample email based on a customizable template:

Subject line: Invitation to interview at Acme

Thank you for applying to Acme.

Your application for the Junior Developer position stood out to us and we would like to invite you for an interview at our office.

You will meet with our Engineering department manager, Ms. Blake, and two of her team members. The interview will last about 60 minutes. You’ll have the chance to discuss the position’s responsibilities and learn more about our company.

We would like to conduct your interview sometime this week. Please let me know which one of the following time slots you would prefer. I will be sending you a calendar invitation once I receive your reply.

  • Monday 3/3, 5:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday 3/4, 10:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday 3/4, 5:30 p.m.

If none of these time slots work for you, let me know.

Our offices are located at 234 Road St. You can find an attached screenshot of our exact location. Please bring your ID, so you can receive a visitor’s pass at the reception. Ask for Mr. Edwards, our Office Manager, as soon as you arrive.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

After you invite candidates to an interview, your interviewing process is set in motion. Choose effective interview questions and monitor your process with useful HR metrics. And soon, you will be welcoming the best candidates onboard.

Finally my telephone rang after months of applying for jobs. I’ve just confirmed a time and a date for a telephone interview with a recruiter at a leading bank for a customer service position in their call centre. I’m going to be practicing with my Reena job coach to be prepared for this call. Hopefully, I’ll be called in for a face-to-face or virtual job interview, the next steps! Please help me prepare for this intimidating step in the job search game.

Signed: Telephonically Challenged

As Judith Stock (2013) explains in her article on employers are “increasingly opting for phone interviews to screen potential new hires. By doing so, companies can sort through candidates without committing to the expense and time required for on-site meet-ups”. Referring to my past discussions with employers, as well as the tips from Reena’s SET job coaches, here are some recommendations to ace this first part of the job interview!

  1. Have a professional voicemail. When the hiring manager calls you, you don’t have to pick up the phone right away. In fact, prepare a very professional, clear, quiet message, similar to one that you would have for your work. State your name, telephone number and invite the caller to leave a detailed message. There should not be any noises in the background. It should be your voice on the message.
  2. Don’t pick up. Let the hiring manager or recruiter leave a message, especially if you have noise in the background like a barking dog or you are doing something else like driving on the 401. Then proceed to a quiet and isolated room with a locked door, and bring your cover letter, resume, job posting, glass of water, a pen and paper and a “working’ telephone with an excellent connection.
  3. Working Your Mobile Phone. Although less popular today, landlines are preferred as a cell phone is less reliable as the calls could get dropped. If you are using your mobile, make sure your technology is working 100 per cent! This is no time to play with your phone! Double check your phone is fully changed and when you return the call (or take it at the time), it is in a place with the best reception as possible. Then return the phone call and make sure you identify yourself, the job in question (including job title and job reference numbers if applicable). In either case, remember to get the telephone and email of the interviewer just in case you get disconnected.
  4. Prepare and Research. As you would prepare for the in person or virtual job interview, do the same for the telephone one too. Do your research on google and all social media tools. Find out as much as you can on the company, the interviewer and the other employees as well as the workplace culture. Prepare some questions to ask the interviewer but only if he or she asks for it. For example, what specific skills are you looking for in this candidate? Or “I read that the company ____ (insert a recent success). How do you see this position contributing to the continued success of the organization?”
  5. Be professional. Even though the interviewer won’t see you, I would dress as you would for a face-to-face interview; you’re more likely to feel and sound professional if you look the part. Smile, keep engaged and upbeat over the phone. Let your positive attitude shine through the handset or headset! Place a mirror on your desk to see your facial expressions when you tal You don’t have the body language or the non-verbal communication abilities to impress the caller. It’s all about the voice.
  6. Be focused, courteous and concise. Stock warns job seekers that the telephone interview is shorter than the in-person interviews. You have less time to make a good impression. So avoid long-winded answers. Practice the day before the interview. Take notes during the call. Focus on the conversation and listen carefully in order to respond appropriately to the questions. Ask for the direct telephone number and email. End with a “thank you”.
  7. Follow up. Twenty-four to 48 hours after the interview ends, send an email thanking the interviewer for the opportunity and summarizing what you spoke about during the phone interview. The subject line should be: “Your name and the position you applied for.” restate your interest. And, if you really want to appear smarter than most, include a link to an interesting news article about the company that you already found during your preparation research.

Looking for a new position is one of the most stressful things you’ll ever do. Perhaps it’s the high stakes behind the search that makes it easy to over-analyze every part of it, especially when it comes to how you respond to the emails recruiters send. I know that before I became a recruiter, I spent way too long trying to write the perfect responses to every single email I received. They had to be perfect, I thought, because there was a job on the line.

But when I started writing emails to candidates, I quickly realized that people put way too much pressure on themselves to “get their responses right.” So, before you spend all weekend trying to figure out how to sign-off (is it best or sincerely?), here are three emails recruiters send, and the answers they truly want from you.

1. Scheduling a Phone Interview

It makes sense if you want to avoid offending someone when he or she is just trying to schedule a phone interview. But, based on my experience in recruiting, I know two things: Recruiters are busy and when they want to schedule a phone interview, it will take the most offensive email ever to ruin your candidacy at this stage.

How to Respond

If a recruiter asks for a particular time that you’re available to speak, feel free to write back and say, “That time works for me. Please let me know if you need anything else in the meantime.” That’s it. If he or she asks for times that you’d be available to speak, use this template:

Hi [Recruiter Name],

Thanks so much for reaching out. I’m available to speak at [insert dates and times you’re free for a phone interview]. Please let me know if you need anything else in the meantime.

Looking forward to discussing the role with you!

That’s all it takes. It doesn’t need to be wordy, or even go too far to reemphasize your interest in the role.

2. Can You Resend Your Resume?

You’re probably thinking, “Wait, what? You need an updated resume? Do you not believe the original version I sent you?” If that’s the case, take a deep breath and relax. Even when a company has a sophisticated system for tracking applicants, sometimes technology doesn’t cooperate, and websites go down, files get corrupt, and a wide variety of things can happen to your resume that would make a recruiter have to ask for another copy. Don’t read into this too much if it happens. Just send it along again and trust that you didn’t do anything wrong.

How to Respond

This one’s relatively straightforward:

Hi [Recruiter Name],

Hope this finds you well. Attached is a copy of my resume. Please let me know if I can resend any other materials.

Seriously, that’s all this requires. Don’t keep yourself up trying to figure out why a recruiter asked for this. Just send it.

3. Do You Have Time to Chat Today?

This is different from the phone interview email. Much different. It could mean a lot of things. You could be on the verge of finding out you didn’t get your dream job. Or, that you got it and that it’s time to celebrate. I used to overanalyze this type of email to the point where a half-hour would go by, and I’d realize, Oh shoot, I should probably respond.

Don’t worry about what you say when you answer this one—either way, you’re getting some news, and you’re about to have a much longer conversation with the recruiter, one in which you’ll be able to use your all your words.

How to Respond

There’s a common thread throughout these templates: They are all very, very straightforward. And for you, I hope that’s good news. In this case, here’s how you can respond to a request for a quick chat:

Hi [Recruiter Name],

Thanks for following up with me! I’m available [insert times you can speak that day]. Please let me know if any of those times work for you, and if not, I’d be happy to find a time that is convenient for both of us.

Simple, right? Well, it should be. There’s a much more in-depth conversation waiting for you, so don’t waste too much time trying to figure out how to send the “right” response. Focus more on gearing up for whatever it is the recruiter wants to talk about.

I get it. Interviewing is hard, and it’s even trickier because every single layer of it comes with its own stress. After all, there’s a position with a real salary, and real benefits, and probably very real happiness on the line. You should be commended for wanting to nail every part of it. But don’t worry: When it comes to these kinds of recruiter emails, saying less in your responses won’t cost you your dream job.


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How to set up a phone interview

Katie McDonald, Talent Acquisition Partner

03/26/2020 03:32 PM EDT

Hi everyone! My name is Katie McDonald, and I work on the Talent Team at POLITICO as a Talent Acquisition Partner. Since many companies are remote right now, acing your phone interview is more important than ever! Below are some skills that can help you stand out in this round and get to the next.

Sweat the small stuff

  • Make sure you know the correct time and time zone of the phone interview.
  • Be sure to confirm your phone number with the interview team, so that there is no confusion.
  • Figure out who will be calling you and do your research on the interviewer through the company’s website and on LinkedIn.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

  • Practice out loud answers to typical interview questions. The more comfortable you get speaking about your background, why you’re looking for a job, and what you want out of your next step, the better you’ll sound on the phone!
  • Do thorough research on the company, the role and any specific products or topics listed within the job description. Make sure you can confidently speak to these areas, and articulate clearly why you want to be part of the fun.
  • Prepare several thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer. These questions will show that you’ve done some fantastic research, and that you’re well-prepared for the call.

Before the call

  • Block your calendar, charge your phone, have a notebook, pen and water ready. It’s also a good idea to wear headphones for your interview, so that there is less background noise.
  • Find a quiet, secure and familiar place to do your phone call. If you’re taking your phone interview on outside or in a coffee shop, that noise can be distracting to both you and the interviewer.
  • Make sure your roommates or family members know you’ll be taking a phone interview. Additionally, if you have pets, make sure they are in a different room.
  • Even though the interviewer won’t be able to see you, try to dress the part. You’ll most likely feel more confident if you’re in professional clothes, instead of pajamas or sweats.
  • Don’t panic if the interviewer is a few minutes late!

During the call: it’s showtime!

  • Be ready for the call, and try to pick up on the second or third ring.
  • Introduce yourself when answering the phone, and thank the interviewer for giving you a call.
  • Don’t be afraid of small talk – chatting about the weather or your weekend plans are great ways to connect with the interviewer before getting to the nitty-gritty.
  • Speak slowly and thoughtfully. It’s ok if you need to pause to think of an answer for a question.
  • Listen – and let the interviewer know that you are listening by giving verbal cues that you’re keeping up. If you have to ask several times for the interviewer to repeat a question, it might come across that you’re not a good listener.
  • Give specific examples from your experiences when answering questions! These tangible answers show the interviewer in real time that you could be a good fit.
  • Since you and the interviewer aren’t face to face, try to be enthusiastic when you speak. This makes up for not being able to smile or use hand gestures.
  • Be ready to speak for your availability to interview and to potentially start a position. This can expedite the interview process if you’re selected for the next round.
  • Have a number ready in case the interview asks what your compensation expectations are
  • Finally – thank the interviewer for his or her time and end on a friendly note!

After the call: seal the deal

  • Jot down a few notes after your call! These notes can come in handy when referencing things in your thank you note or during the next round of interviews.
  • Send a thank you note to the interviewer – preferably the same day as the interview.
  • Follow up with the interviewer for updates, if you haven’t heard from them in several days.

Hopefully these tips will help you during your next phone interview! Of course, if you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out to me via email at [email protected] .

Have a question or want to connect with the POLITICO Careers team? Email us at [email protected] . Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@politicocareers) and Instagram (@politicocareers) for daily updates!

Tweet This

This is a guest post by Jorg Stegemann, a headhunter with Kennedy Executive Search & Outplacement in Paris. His past articles for Forbes include “Job-Hunting Dilemma: Five Reasons Why You Didn’t Make The Cut.“ He offers more advice on his company career blog and on Twitter.

A good résumé may no longer be enough to get you in the door. Increasingly companies or their outside recruiters want you to go through a telephone interview first. In a typical search assignment with 100 or more candidates, I identify the 15 that interest me most and call them. Based on my impressions during telephone screening interviews, I meet with five or seven of these people. Only three of them make the shortlist that I present to my client.


There are two types of phone interviews — scheduled and unscheduled. Often the first contact for a scheduled one comes by email or via LinkedIn, but theoretically your phone could ring at any time. So make sure you answer it yourself (keep it out of reach of your two-year-old) and have a professional voicemail message.

Unscheduled calls never work in your favor. If you’re caught by surprise, schedule another time to talk. Nobody will blame you for saying something to the effect of, “Great to hear from you. I am not at my desk and won’t be able to give this call the attention it deserves. When can I call you back?”

Do your homework. Thoroughly research the company and the interviewer, just as if you were preparing to meet in person. Expect some variation on the question, “What do you know about us?” If you are not able to state the company’s key figures, strategy and markets, the interview might be over after only three minutes. One of the nice things about a phone interview is that you can have your “cheat sheet” in front of you.

Prepare questions. These can make or break an interview. Design them with two goals in mind: To give you the information you need to determine if you want to go further; and to show you are perfect for the job.

Create a comfortable environment. If you don’t have a lot of experience with phone interviews, you might find them more stressful than live ones. So do everything you can to feel at ease. Shut out distractions and eliminate background noise (for example, from young children and pets). Have a a glass of water handy. Print out your résumé and mark key parts that you want to highlight in the conversation. Be ready 10 minutes early, so you don’t sound rushed. If you will be talking on a landline, turn off your cell phone; if you plan to do the interview on a cell phone, make sure it is fully charged. Have a paper and pen handy, so you don’t have to take notes on your computer during the call — the keyboard clicks might be distracting for the interviewer. If your computer makes audible pings as you receive email, turn off the sound.


Listen first. Usually, the interviewer will set the stage. He or she will talk about expectations, why the person before you left, what it takes to be successful in this company and what the major challenges will be. Take notes so you are able to respond to all these points when it is your turn to talk.

The leitmotif of a successful interview is finding things that you have in common. Flagging them helps you bond with your future boss or the human resources manager. Look for ways to make these connections – for example, by saying, “Sounds familiar: We had a similar situation at company ABC. Here is what I did. And these were the results.”

Then talk. When we are in front of someone, we can send and receive visual cues. On the phone, we must make a good impression purely with our voices. Drink as much water as you need to avoid having to clear your throat. If you haven’t talked in several hours, do some voice exercises before the call. Posture is important too and has an impact on your voice. Stand, or make sure you sit up very straight, during the call.

Smile as you speak. If you don’t believe the difference this makes, test it by leaving yourself two identical voice messages — one with and one without smiling. During the phone interview, a good time to smile is when you talk about the work you’ve done, ask questions, or express your enthusiasm about the company.

Create a positive ending. If you really want the job, end the call on a positive note. Say something to the effect of, “Thanks for the call. I like what I heard and from this information, I am confident I could fill the role. I am very interested in this job and would be pleased to meet you in person. What is the next step?”


Send a thank-you note. Let half a business day go by and then send a brief note (no longer than one screen shot). This email should come on the same day, but not immediately after, the call. Confirm your interest in the company, ability to do the job and desire to take things to the next step.

Be patient. You won’t necessarily get a reply email to your thank-you note. Follow up one week later, and again after two weeks. I do not send more than two of these “chasers.” After three weeks, I write one last reminder saying, “Dear Mary, I was happy to talk to you on [date]. Please note that this is my third message and I will no longer bother you. I am still interested in the job (in my case, the search assignment) we discussed and would be delighted to make your acquaintance soon.” After that, it’s up to them.

Face reality. We are all up against stiff odds. During 13 years working as a recruiter, I have found a new job for approximately 350 candidates. This means that I presented 1,000 knowledge workers (one typical shortlist is three candidates). And I have had to call 650 people and tell them they didn’t make the cut.

Once you’ve followed all these steps, move on to other things. Remember: Somewhere out there is a job for you. You just have to find it.