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Telephone Interviews Do’s and Don’ts

The telephone is used as a way to screen applicants.  Rarely will you be able to win the job on the telephone. Your goal from the telephone interview is to gain a face-to-face meeting. 


  • Have a copy of your current resume, transcript, and the job description in front of you during the interview.  Make a list of answers to anticipated key questions, a list of points that you might want to mention, a calendar with all scheduled commitments, and a folder for each company you have applied, a notepad and pen.
  • Keep a log of companies and titles of job applied for, which will help you be better prepared if you are called unexpectedly.
  • Record a professional message for your answering machine or voicemail.
  • Research the company, contact, or executive recruiter.
  • Listen carefully at the beginning of the conversation to get the caller’s correct name and job title.
  • Be enthusiastic, professional, and show interest in the position and organization.
  • Talk slowly, show self-confidence, and be concise.
  • Stand up while talking, to keep your energy level high, but avoid pacing the floor – you might sound out-of-breath without realizing it.
  • Speak loudly enough that you can easily be heard.
  • Use correct grammar and complete sentences.
  • Minimize all distractions making sure your background is quiet.
  • Be a champion listener – prove your listening by feeding back what the interviewer says.
  • Ask pertinent questions about the job and the company, not just about salary, benefits, and/or hours.
  • Thank the caller for his or her time.
  • Send a thank-you note to the interviewer(s).


    • Use speech fillers such as “uh” and “um” or long pauses.
    • Whine about your past or present job or boss.
    • Assume because you sent in your resume anyone’s read it. Be prepared to start from the beginning.
    • Eat, drink, or chew gum during the interview.
    • Type on the computer during the interview.
    • Turn off music or TV during the interview.
    • Put an interviewer on hold to take call waiting.
    • Give long-winded, detailed responses.
    • Rush through the interview.
    • Give yes/no answers. Instead try to give concise, real-world examples to illustrate your points.
    • Call on Monday mornings. Most people are trying to play catch up from the weekend.




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