Candidate Telephone Interview Tips

Please read the following important refresher and PRINT A COPY so you can review and make notes. I created these tips to be for even the most experienced interviewees and I think you’ll find then to be extremely helpful.  I guarantee you a better experience if you take the time to PRINT A COPY, read it well beforehand and read it one more time before you meet the potential employer.

The interview is the ultimate test of a candidate’s suitability. A strong personal interview can often compensate for a weak resume or minimal experience.

Remember, 75% of a hire is based on chemistry. Exhibit high energy; be enthusiastic, passionate and most importantly be honest.

Apply the 50/50 Rule “An interview should be a mutual exchange of information and not a one-sided conversation. By using the 50/50 Rule (meaning you talk about 50% of the time and allow the other party to talk 50% of the time) there is an equal exchange of information.

Rehearse if is been a while since you last interviewed. Role-play with a friend or family member who will be honest and observant and critique you on things such as body language, voice tone, etc.

For a telephone interview have your resume in front of you to reference. For a face-to-face interview bring clean copies with you. As a rule bring one copy per interviewer and two extras for any surprise visitors.

TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE and MAKE SURE YOU ARE SOMEHWHERE QUIET WITH LIMITED DISTRACTIONS! If you choose to be interviewed by cell phone – MAKE SURE you are in a spot with an EXCELLENT SIGNAL.

Visit the company’s website. During the interview surprise them with your knowledge of the company.


“Smile on the phone” Refer to a mutual acquaintance if you have one but DO NOT name drop too much. This can be a major turn-off. Be confident but never cocky. Be mindful of good posture and don’t slouch even on the phone!

For a telephone interview, ATTITUDE is key. It is amazing what will shine through across the telephone lines. That is why we recommend practicing a telephone interview in the mirror and stand up while on the phone. Be enthusiastic, charismatic, sincere and honest.



Listen. Think. Respond

Listen. This is probably the most important ability of all. Concentrate not only on the employer’s words but also the tone of voice and body language. This will help you pick up on their style. Once you have an understanding of this, pattern your answers accordingly and you will better relate to him or her.

Be sure you answer the questions asked. If the questions are vague, get the interviewer to be more specific and then respond. Try to avoid simple yes or no answers. Explain whenever possible.

Relate your background to the job position. Cover the hot buttons of the interviewer and learn to deal with talking about your weaknesses.


  • NEVER lie or bad-mouth any former or current employer/employee.
  • NEVER smoke or drink alcohol at any meal.
  • NEVER become overly friendly/comfortable/informal with interviewer.
  • NEVER talk too much (remember the 50/50 Rule).
  • NEVER lose your composure.
  • NEVER interrupt the other person
  • NEVER bring up the subject of $$$$$$. Let the interviewer do that.



Be organized with your thoughts and go into the interview with a list of strategic questions. Get the interviewer to describe the position and responsibilities early on in the conversation so you can relate your skills and background to the position throughout the interview.


  • About the company and the interviewers background.
  • What is the #1 priority in this position? Then expand on that point: Explain how your experience and background fits what the company is looking for.
  • What are the first year’s goals in this position?
  • What obstacles do you see that could stop you from meeting these goals? Expand on your background to support how you have overcome similar obstacles.
  • With whom will I be interfacing? How will my success be measured? How did the last person do in this position? Why is the position vacant? How is the work being done now?

Do I have the qualifications that you are looking for?

If YES ” Respond, lets move to the next step.

If NOT SURE YET Say, I must not have covered something.

What questions do you need answered?

If NO, the ask “Why?”   Ask this on the spot and cover it.

Problems/Solutions:  Give examples of experiences where you have had a problem. Explain how you dealt with it and the solution you created to fix it. (Success stories)

The Sandwich: Sandwich your weaknesses between two strengths (e.g. I am very excited about technology even though I only have 6 months computer experience. And I am willing to do whatever it takes to come up to speed right away.)

If you lack a particular qualification, point out a compensating asset but never totally ignore the fact that you do not have the qualification. Let the interviewer know you are aware of it and willing to learn and grow.

Talking $$$ – When the conversation gets to this point a good response is as much as the position is worth. ” I am willing to look at anything which is competitive with my experience and my background or something along those lines.” DO NOT give a $ figure too early on in the interviewing process (the 3rd or 4th is the norm). Bringing this up any earlier may rule you out too soon.


By closing strongly and asking the right questions at this point, you can eliminate the post-interview doubts that tend to plague most interviewees.

The Must Ask Question Do you have any questions or concerns about my background that I can clarify for you while I’m here? This is a great closing question because it opens the door for the interviewer to be honest with you about his/her feelings. If concerns do exist, this is a great opportunity to overcome them. You have one final chance to dispel the concerns, sell your strengths and end the interview on a positive note.

Conveyance of Interest “If you are interested in the position you must convey this BEFORE you hang up the phone. “Let the interviewer KNOW that you are interested and that you would like to go to the next step. ASK, What is the next step? Get their email address!! (see below)


Once you hang up the phone, immediately write down any key issues that were not covered during the interview. Relate the qualifications the employer is looking for and match your strengths to them.

Send a thank you email no later than 24 hours after the interview. Send one to each of those with whom you spoke.

Please call me for an immediate debrief while this is fresh in your mind – please express any concerns or ask me any questions you felt were not appropriate to raise on this first interview.