Phone interviews: how to do well
A phone interview usually takes place in the early stages of applying for a job. Follow our tips to improve your skills and do your best.
Make a note of the interview details
When you're invited to have a phone interview, make sure you know the:
- date and time of the interview
- name of the person who will be calling you
- name of the company
- role you're applying for - this is important if you have more than one interview arranged
You should also check that the company has the right phone number to reach you on the day.
Do your research
You should prepare as you would for a face to face interview. The employer will want to see how enthusiastic you are about joining the company and taking on the role. Make sure that you:
- find out all you can about the company
- read through the job description
- go over your CV or application form
This will help you plan how you're going to show that you have the skills and experience the employer wants. To help you plan, you could:
- think about the sorts of questions the interviewer will ask
- use the STAR method to plan your answers
- make some prompt cards to have in front of you during the call
Prepare some questions
Prepare 2 or 3 questions you can ask the interviewer, like:
- how the interviewer's career path led them to the company
- what kind of training or development opportunities there are
- what an average day would be like
Plan where to take the call
You’ll need somewhere quiet without any distractions. If you live in a shared space you may need to ask your housemates or family to be quiet during your interview.
If you have caring responsibilities get help if you can, so you can focus on the interview. You should organise everything well in advance.
Practise your interviewing
Practising with a mock phone interview may help to calm your nerves. It can boost your confidence and help you perform better on the day.
You could get help from:
- a friend or family member who can call and ask you some interview questions
- your university careers service, school or college careers adviser
- an adviser from the National Careers Service
If you don’t have anyone to help, you could record yourself practising your interview. Play it back to make sure:
- your voice is clear
- you are speaking at the right pace – try not to talk too fast if you are nervous
- you sound keen and engaged
Try smiling while you talk – it makes you sound friendly and upbeat, even if the interviewer can’t see you.
On the interview day
Be organised and prepared. Make sure you have:
- a pen and paper or laptop to take notes
- your CV and application form
- prompt cards for any reminders you need
Charge your phone, and switch off your mobile if you’re using a landline phone.
Make sure your environment is quiet and you have no distractions. Use earphones if it helps you focus.
Even though the interviewer cannot see you, it's a good idea to dress smart. It gets you into the right mindset for a formal interview situation. Standing up on the call can make some people feel more confident too.
During the call
Be ready 10 minutes before your interview time so you have a chance to settle yourself. Take some deep breaths and try to stay calm.
When you’re on the call you should:
- be polite and professional
- tell the interviewer if the line is bad or you cannot hear
- try to sound engaged and interested
- be clear and confident
- leave a small gap at the end of each question before answering, to avoid talking over the interviewer
- ask the interviewer to repeat the question if you’re not sure what they’re asking
After the interview
At the end of the interview, you should thank the employer for their time. It’s okay to ask when to expect to hear the outcome of your interview.
Think about what you've learned from the experience. Consider updating your prompt cards with your ideas for next time.
To improve your interview performance in the future, you could focus on 2 or 3 things that went well. Also think about anything you think you could do better next time.