A telephone interview is a real interview and, in fact, you should prepare for a telephone interview just as you would an in-person interview. The telephone interview is just as important as a face-to-face interview.

Is a telephone interview a real interview?

I ask this question because in an attempt to conduct telephone interviews for an open position, I witnessed a few behaviors that indicated several individuals did not consider the telephone interview to be a “real interview.” While speaking with one candidate, I could clearly hear music playing in the background, lots of noise, and background conversations. With another candidate, who by the way was traveling and apparently could not find a quiet spot to talk to me, except outside of a restaurant, I again was distracted by everything that was occurring in the background.

The telephone interview is usually the first step in the interview process. It is often used to separate candidates who deserve an in-person interview from those who do not. It is also used to determine if one has the minimum requirements that are needed in the position. It is an opportunity for you to use your voice to impress the interviewer and express your confidence and knowledge through verbal conversation. Getting past the telephone interview means that you have propelled yourself to the next level in the hiring process.

After experiencing two distracting telephone interviews, I thought it was most important to share a few tips on mastering the telephone interview:

  1. Schedule the interview at a time that is convenient for you.
  2. Find a quiet location where you can avoid distractions and interruptions.
  3. Project a clear positive tone and speak with confidence.
  4. Give clear, concise responses.
  5. Be attentive and focused.
  6. Be prepared – research the company.
  7. Highlight your skills and qualifications.
  8. Do not be afraid to ask questions.

A final tip: Make sure you give yourself an edge above the other candidates by taking the time to master everything that is within your control.


Alicia S. Williams, Human Resources Administrator

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Alicia Williams, PHR, SHRM-CP
Alicia Williams, PHR, SHRM-CP

Alicia is an HR professional with over 15 years’ experience leading for-profit and nonprofit organizations in human resources management. As Chief Human Resources Officer at DMJ & Co., PLLC, her areas of responsibility include employee and labor relations, benefits, policy development, recruiting, coaching and development, payroll processing and performance management.

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