How to Ace a Phone Interview

It’s all about taking the time to do your homework

You search and search for a new job. You apply online. Then you finally get that GOLDEN email back days or weeks later from the company’s internal recruiter thanking you for your application and asking you when you’re available next for a call.


Now it’s your time to shine and prove why you would be the ideal hire for this position. Recruiters can get hundreds to thousands of applications per job opening and their job is to keep cutting the list down to get to a shortlist of qualified candidates to send to the hiring manager. This is your big chance!

Where to start? It’s all about taking some time to prepare in advance.

First off, no matter what type of job you’re applying to be sure to browse the company’s website and social media channels. This will give you a good indication of the company’s product or services, target customer, and mission.

One step further: Search online for recent news or visit sites like or for employee reviews. If it’s a public company, check out the first few pages of their recent annual report to get a sense of their direction.

When you’re preparing for the call, be sure to have the infamous “Tell me about yourself” question covered. Practice keeping it brief and relevant to the job. Additionally, for every requirement on the job description, you should have talking points on how your own work experience relates with examples. The more you can articulate how your experience is relevant to the job the better.

One step further: Write down a few main points on why you’re the perfect fit for the job. Do the company’s mission and your own align? Have you dreamed about taking on this type of role and know you can add value with your skill set?

For the phone screen, you’ve got to be honest and upfront with the “make it or break it” questions that the recruiter will likely ask you during the call. For example, if the job requires 50% travel and that doesn’t work for your lifestyle, you need to be prepared to say that. It might even work out in your favor.

We all know salary is a major factor when it comes to a new job. You want to feel you’re being fairly compensated and that you’re not settling. When it comes to salary in New York and many other states, keep in mind that companies legally cannot ask how much money you makeBe ready to give the recruiter your expectations on salary range instead.

In addition, you should be prepared to talk about your current work status and why you are looking for a new job. Try to avoid saying anything negative about your current or previous employers. Even though the recruiter might be all ears, it could hurt you in the end.

Next, take the time to put together a few questions to ask the interviewer. Interviews work both ways, where the candidate and recruiter should be asking questions. This is your opportunity to learn more about this potential next big step in your career!

For example, what’s your favorite part about working for the company? Is this a new role? What are the next steps in the interview process? However, DO NOT ask something that was already clearly provided or rush to bring up salary within the first few minutes of the call.

One step further: Check out the recruiter’s LinkedIn profile ahead of time. Anything in common? Both Alumni at the same university? It could be another good talking point.

With the constant tweaking of your resume for every job application you send, it is easy to forget which one went to which company. Remember to review and keep the resume version you used to apply to the job closeby. This way, if the recruiter references a line specifically you’ll be able to speak about it without any hesitation.

Lastly, showing your enthusiasm for both the position and company is important. If you don’t seem like you want the job, why would anyone hire you? Show the recruiter you are interested in the position and happy to take the time to talk about it further.

When taking an interview phone screen often means magically squeezing it into your already busy workday schedule, it can be easy to overlook some of these areas. Recruiters, like anyone, can sense when we haven’t done our homework so throughout the job search process, try to put in your best effort and remember that recruiters are balancing a lot too. Don’t take offense if they don’t get back to you right away. Give them some time and always be respectful.

Best of luck!