4 Tips for a Phone Interview

NY Creative Interns Interview Tips

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When you think of interviews, most people usually picture the typical face-to-face interview with a job candidate sitting across the desk from a potential employer.  However, phone interviews are pretty standard, especially for internships.  Employers often use phone interviews as a “screening” to help narrow down finalists for in-person interviews.  How do you prepare for these types of interviews?  Below are some quick tips so employers can hear the real you.

Clear connection:

Raise your hand if you have a landline.  Nobody?  Using your cellphone for a phone interview is perfectly appropriate as long as you will be conducting the interview in a nice, quiet space where you know that you will have good reception.  Remove all distractions which includes the television, the computer, and the noisy roommate.  When in doubt, as you start the phone interview, take time to ask what steps the interviewer would like to take should you get disconnected.  If the employer is calling you for the interview, still make sure that you have the appropriate information (first and last name, phone number and extension, etc) so you can call back if you experience connectivity issues.

Stand up, dress up, and smile:

Although it may be tempting to wear your pajamas for a phone interview (hey, they can’t even see me!), you want to dress the part so you feel more professional.  Dress as you would if you were going in for an in-person interview and you will get into “interview-mode” and feel more confident.  Another great tip for phone interviews is simple – stand up when you are speaking.  When you stand, your voice projects better and you will be more conscience of speaking clearly.  Since your voice is your only tool, you want to be able to infuse your answers with emotion.  Practice by saying your name aloud.  Now smile and say your name aloud.  Notice a difference?  One way to project a positive tone is to smile from time to time throughout the interview.


One of the benefits and drawbacks of a phone interview is that the potential employer cannot see you.  You can use this to your advantage by preparing some notes before the interview.  Keep your notes brief – you never want to sound like you are reading from a script.  Instead, these quick reminders can help you to stay on point and focused.  Notes can include information about your strengths, skills, abilities, information about the company/position, questions you have for the employer, etc.  Keep a pen and pad nearby in case you need to jot down additional notes or questions during the interview.  You will also want to have a copy of your resume, cover letter, and the position description handy.


Like any interview, take time to fully listen to the question before responding.  Since you are relying  completely on verbal communication, you want to make sure that the employer is finished speaking before you begin to answer a question.  Never interrupt or speak over someone during a phone interview (also good advice in general).  Take a moment to think about the question before you answer it and don’t worry if there is empty space in the conversation.  It is okay for there to be “quiet time” while you are thinking about the question before you provide an answer.

Do you have any other tips for phone interviews? Let us know in the comments. 

About the Author

Jenna Campolieta facilitates an Internship Seminar for Eugene Lang students at the New School in New York City. You can follow her on twitter at @jennacamp.

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