Throughout your job search, you may be asked to conduct a phone interview as the initial stage in the interview process. Phone interviews are a commonly used screening tool and this is often how recruiters will first engage with candidates as well. Although these phone interviews may be shorter and seem more informal than the in-person interview, which is considered to be the main event, do not make the mistake of treating them as a warm-up. Here are some tips to make the best impression during a phone interview:

  1. Setting the scene: Make sure you are in a quiet location where you will not be interrupted. The last thing you want is to have your conversation drowned out by passing traffic and the last thing your interviewer wants is to hear the TV on in the background. Here are some examples of locations that are problematic: food court, sidewalk, in transportation of any kind (public or in your own car), and any place with spotty reception (i.e. a stairwell). You should also consider what impact your chosen location will have on the confidentiality of your discussion.
  2. Your dress: This article explores the positive benefits that “dressing up” can have when you are working from home, including increasing productivity and professionalism. It makes sense that these same effects could benefit you during a phone interview; you want to give yourself every opportunity to portray professionalism and confidence on the phone and dressing up may certainly aid in that effort. Now, I’m not saying you need to go all out and match your belt with your shoes or pull out the nylons, but there may be something to be said for choosing something more professional than activewear.
  3. Have a copy of your resume handy: Your interviewer will be looking at your resume and any other documents you provided in your application package when you speak and you should be too. There is nothing worse than asking a candidate about a point on their resume and the candidate struggles to recall what they wrote or when it occurred. You can also make some notes on your resume about what you discussed so that when you move to a second interview, you can focus on any important points you feel were missed in the initial discussion.
  4. Reception: Another factor that can negatively impact the impression you make during a phone interview is the quality of the reception on your call. It can be difficult to focus on the key aspects of your experience if the person on the other end of the line is constantly cutting out or asking you to repeat yourself. Of course, there will always be factors that are out of your hands and should you experience connectivity issues during your call, reconnect with your interviewer as soon as possible, apologize and move on.
  5. Set a time: Agree on a set time for the call in advance. This allows time for each side to implement all the points above and ensure that a bad impression doesn’t result from being taken off-guard. Also, as the interviewee, you should ask whether the interviewer prefers you call them or vice-versa.


The take-home message is to be as prepared for a phone interview as you would be for an in-person interview. A failure to properly prepare can result in your candidacy not moving past this initial stage. First impressions do matter and the tips above will help you make the best one possible during a phone interview. Click here and here for a few other articles with tips on preparing for phone interviews.

Jennifer is a Recruitment and Communications Consultant with The Heller Group. She is actively involved in the recruitment and placement of lawyers into law firms and corporations and is also responsible for the corporate communications related to The Heller Group. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys travelling, curling and spending time with friends and family.

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