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How to Ace a Phone Interview

Sound Quality Matters: Use the best telephone available.

Never use a speaker phone, and don't be in an echoing room. The recruiter wants to get a sense of who you are, and the worst thing you can do is sound like an echoing voice on a squawk box. You want to sound confident, grounded, and reassuring.

Never do a phone interview while driving or in a moving car. If the signal is lost so could your chances of landing the job. 

Use Notes: A phone interview is like an open-notes test, use your notes.


Create bulleted notes for the most common interview questions you expect to hear, and feel free to quietly refer to your notes. If you think you'll be asked "Why do you want this job?", "What did you accomplish in your present position?", and "Why are you leaving ABC Corp?", then create notes for these questions.


Formulate your Answers into Sound Bites: Short and memorable.


There's nothing worse than a candidate who rambles on, leaving the interviewer wondering when and how to cut him off. A good habit is to respond in sound bites. The interviewer can then easily capture these in their interview notes (which will be sent to the hiring manager).


For example, say the interviewer asks, "What makes you qualified for this job?"


Rather than a rambling response, you might say: "I believe I have three key strengths that make me a good fit for this job: One, I have three years of experience using the Gizmo 1000 software that's required for this job; Two, I'm a fast learner and can come up to speed quickly on your project; and Three, if you check my references, I believe you'll learn that I'm a true team player."

  1. Remember the Word "Earnest": It's the perfect tone for any interview.

    When I interview, I'm looking for earnest people. I don't want to be sold, I don't want anyone overly enthusiastic and of course, I don't want to be put to sleep. In my mind, the word earnest best describes the tone and tenor that suits the situation best.

  2. Ask Great Questions: Show off your intellectual curiosity.

    • "How do I get an 'A' in this position?"

    • "If I do a great job in this position, what would be a logical promotion path?"

    • "What personality and work styles work best for the hiring manager?"

    • "How would you rate my candidacy for the job?"

  3. In fact, there's nothing worse than an interviewee who doesn't ask questions. Here are a few of my favorite questions that candidates have asked me during an interview:

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