Professional Development, Tips & Techniques

Nail your phone interview with these easy steps

4 tips to follow.

words by: Natasha Marsh
May 24, 2020

Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, phone interviews ranked high on recruiters list for first round screenings. Chances are phone and video interviews will be the new normal for the rest of 2020, regardless of what stage you’re at in the interview. And because nerves can get the best of you, it’s better to over prepare for this step.

The great thing about phone interviews is the recruiter or hiring manager can’t see you. So you can use notes! We don’t recommend writing down answers, but instead, writing down a couple bullet points to work off of. This will help you share key points while keeping answers natural and spontaneous. Ahead, we’ve outlined a cheat sheet for you. You’re welcome. 


“Tell me about yourself.” 

Ah, the dreaded, inevitable question. When asked this, please do not respond with your life story. Recruiters look for answers that show you are right for the job. This question will often set the tone for the interview so let them know right away why you’re perfect for the job. 

Your answer should include the below:

  1. Current job: Tell them what you’re doing right now, highlighting projects or tasks that relate to the job you’re interviewing for
  2. Previous jobs: Give a brief summary of your previous jobs as it relates to the role
  3. Future job: Talk about what you’re looking for (Tip: should be quite similar to the job description, but be honest!)


Food for thought: This question often has follow-up questions, like “How do you like to be managed?” or “Do you prefer to work on a team or independently.” Be prepared to answer. 



It’s important for recruiters to get a sense of who you are in difficult situations. They do this by asking behavioral questions like, “Tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult coworker,” “How do you handle stress or pressure,” or,  “Tell me about a time you made a mistake?”. Your answer will show them how you work in difficult situations and how you’ll likely handle them in the future.  

Prepare two to four polished stories for this section. Again, writing down just a few key words to help jog your memory. By having multiple examples, it will be easy to adapt stories depending on what behavioral question is asked.


Why us?

Companies want to feel like you sought them out, instead of being one of the employers on your list. They want to feel special. At some point in the interview you might hear “What excites you about this job,” or “Why are you leaving your current job?”. Both questions really say, “Why do you want to work here?”. Spend some time thinking about why you are applying. Was there something in the job description that made you think, “Wow, I hope I get this!”?

Have at least two reasons why you want this job. For example, maybe you’re looking for a promotion and can’t level up at your current job, or maybe you want more client interaction. The great thing is this question almost always answers why you’re leaving your current job – a question which is often hard to steer in a positive direction. 

Then get personal – research the company website, social media profiles, and industry. Note any unique takeaways of their values, benefits, workplace, and culture that match your style and values. For example, maybe the company is targeting a younger audience for the first time and you have experience with the younger crowd, so you’re eager to bring your experience to the table. The key here, is to show you’ve done your homework and are genuinely excited to be a part of what they are creating.


Show me the money! 

There’s a possibility you will be asked for your salary requirements towards the end of the interview. Don’t panic, it’s usually just to gauge where you are at. Research the average salary in your geographic area and figure out where you fall in, based on your experience and qualifications. 


Good luck – you’ve got this!