How To Start a Phone Interview (With Tips and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 13, 2022 | Published June 26, 2020

Updated June 13, 2022

Published June 26, 2020

Related: Top Phone Interview Tips: 5 Common Questions and Best Strategies

In this video, Holl shares advice from expert career coaches on what recruiters look for during an initial phone screen of a job interview.

Employers will commonly use phone interviews as a way to screen job candidates to learn if they meet the job requirements. This method can be beneficial for companies for finding and inviting only qualified candidates to move on and attend additional in-person interviews. If you’re anticipating a phone interview, the way you answer the call and start your conversation can impact the interview's overall success.

In this article, we discuss effective ways to answer the call and begin a phone interview, along with tips to start the conversation and increase your phone interview success.

What is a phone interview?

A phone interview, or phone screening, is an interviewing process that recruiters sometimes use as a way to evaluate a candidate's fit for the job. Success in a phone interview often leads to an in-person interview, and hiring managers may use a phone screening to eliminate unqualified candidates.

Typically, phone interviews are scheduled calls from the interviewer, but sometimes candidates are required to initiate the phone interview by calling the recruiter at a predetermined date and time. For instance, candidates may be expected to call a specific office number to initiate the interview if it involves a group interview with several managers, or if the interview takes place within a conferencing platform.

Other times, interviewers are the ones to initiate the call from their office phones, typically due to the convenience of scheduling interviews during working hours.

Related: How To Prepare for an Interview in 11 Steps

How to begin a phone interview when the interviewer calls you

Starting your phone interview successfully can ultimately impact how the rest of the interview goes. Use the following steps as a guide for starting your phone interview when the interviewer calls you:

1. Get prepared for your phone interview

Even though you're not meeting in person, it can still be crucial to get prepared for the phone interview as you would an in-person interview. Research the company you applied to ahead of time, practice how you'll greet the interviewer and how you'll answer the interviewer's questions, and keep your resume nearby during your interview for quick reference. Also, it's a good idea to write down their name in your notes to keep as a reference throughout your interview.

Additionally, write down some questions that you plan to ask the interviewer during the phone call. For instance, write down any questions you have about job duties, required credentials or any other information you would like to know more about.

Related: How To Answer the Phone Professionally in 10 Steps

2. Answer the call in a professional manner and introduce yourself

To make sure you sound professional when answering the phone for your interview, start out by stating your name in an upbeat tone, and when the interviewer states who they are, confirm that you were anticipating their call. This way, the interviewer will know who you are and that they reached the correct individual. Additionally, check that your voicemail greeting is professional and clear in case you're unable to answer the phone.

Example: "Hello, this is Gemma Rutherford. I've been looking forward to speaking with you, Ms. Anderson."

3. Before you hang up, address the interviewer by name

Restating the interviewer's name toward the end of your phone conversation reiterates personal attention and shows a sign of respect. Be sure to address the interviewer professionally with their designated title, such as Dr., Mrs. or Mr.

Example: "Thanks again, Dr. Seber, for taking the time to discuss the job with me."

Example: "I appreciate your answering my questions, Mr. Taylor. Thank you again for connecting with me today."

Related: 15 Phone Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

How to start a phone interview when initiating the call

Use the following steps to guide you when you prepare to initiate your interview phone call:

1. Greet the individual who answers the call

First, greet the individual who answers your call. For instance, a receptionist may be the professional who you greet, and they need to know your purpose for calling and who you are contacting. Introduce yourself to the individual by stating your name and the reason you called. Likewise, the interviewer may answer the call personally. In this case, follow the same procedure of introducing yourself and your reason for calling.

Example: "Hi, I'm Gemma, and I'm calling for a scheduled phone interview for the accounts payable clerical position."

Example: "Hello, this is Gemma, and I'm calling regarding our scheduled phone interview today."

Read more: How To Greet in an Interview (With Examples and Tips)

2. Ask for the appropriate individual

If a receptionist does answer your call, ask for the appropriate individual after you introduce yourself. For example, ask for the interviewer using their first and last name. If the interviewer answers your call, use this step to ensure you're speaking with the correct individual. Here are two examples for each case:

Example: "Hello, I'm Gemma Rutherford, and I'm calling for a scheduled interview for the accounts payable clerical position. May I speak with Jackie Renshaw, please?"

Example: "Hi, this is Gemma Rutherford, and I'm calling for our scheduled phone interview today. Am I speaking with Jackie Renshaw?"

Related: A Guide To Phone Etiquette: Definition, Tips and Impact

3. Thank the interviewer for speaking with you

After you reach the interviewer and make your introductions, thank the interviewer for speaking with you prior to beginning the interviewing process. Here is an example of all steps combined:

Example: "Hi, Ms. Renshaw, this is Gemma, and I'm calling for the scheduled phone interview I have with you today. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me."

Related: 25 Phone Interview Tips to Get You to the Next Round (With Video)

How to succeed in a phone interview

After getting the interview started, you can improve your success by ensuring you follow proper etiquette, including these steps:

1. Confirm the details of your interview

Before a phone interview can take place, make sure you confirm all the details of the interview with the organization. For instance, confirm the date and time that the interviewer plans to call you so you can be prepared ahead of time. Confirming the details of your phone interview also ensures that all professionals involved are aware of the schedule.

Related: How To Schedule the Best Time to Interview

2. Answer the phone call personally

After scheduling your phone interview, it is important that you're prepared to answer the call yourself. For instance, let your family members or roommates know that you're anticipating a phone call to interview for a job. This ensures that everyone is aware of the importance of being away from the phone when the call comes.

3. Listen attentively to the interviewer

As you get into the conversation, listen attentively to the interviewer as they explain the job details and ask you questions. Avoid interrupting the interviewer when they are speaking, and if you think of something you want to say, write it down for further discussion when it is your turn to speak. Additionally, practicing active listening can ensure you avoid miscommunications or a misunderstanding of something the interviewer discusses with you.

Related: Passive vs. Active Listening: What's the Difference?

4. Take notes and ask questions

Take notes and ask questions during your phone interview. For instance, take notes on specific requirements for the job or additional resources to help you prepare for the role if the interviewer mentions them. Similarly, if something is unclear to you, ask the interviewer about it. You can add their clarification to your notes for later reference.

5. Follow up after your phone interview

Finally, after you end the call with the interviewer, follow up with a thank you message to show your appreciation and to reiterate your enthusiasm for the job. Not only is sending a follow-up message proper interview etiquette, but it can also increase your chances of being invited for an in-person interview.

Learn more: Writing a Follow-up Email: Tips, Template and Example

More tips for your phone interview

Starting a phone interview can seem just as daunting as an in-person interview, but taking the following tips into consideration when you prepare for your phone interview can add to your interview success:

Make a list of your skills and qualifications

Make a list of your skills and qualifications by writing down your strengths and additional credentials that qualify you for the job. Then, match your list of skills with the job requirements so you have an explanation ready when you're asked about your professional background.

Related: 21 Job Interview Tips: How To Make a Great Impression

Take the call in the right environment

When getting ready for your phone interview, make sure that you have a quiet environment free of distractions. If you live with other people in your home, request that they go to another room or move your conversation to a more private space. You can also use a separate room where you can close the door to reduce noisy interruptions.

Related: 25 Phone Interview Tips To Get You to the Next Round

Use a landline instead of a cell phone

If you have access to a landline, consider using that rather than your cell phone. This way, you can avoid poor reception or the risk of your phone interview disconnecting.

Ask about the next steps in your follow-up

When you send your follow-up thank you message, ask about the next steps in the hiring process. This can show the hiring manager your eagerness to work for the company as well as your ability to follow specific directions.

Related: Interview Stage: Screener/Phone Interview

Jenn, a Career Coach, provides a look at the interviewing process and shares tips on how to position yourself for success during the screener/phone interview stage.

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