The Telephone Interview

Julie Shenkman
Posted by in Career Advice

With tight budgets and job seekers applying from across the nation, more and more employers are conducting the first, and sometimes the only, interview over the telephone. So, given the likelihood that your next interview will be over the phone, here are some dos and don'ts!

Schedule the interview

An employer can call at anytime, but, with shift-work, roommates watching basketball games, or babies crying, it's always advisable to prearrange the time for the call. (This is the value of email!) If they do call at an unscheduled time and it's a bad time to talk, say so.

Your voicemail message

Make sure your voicemail message sounds professional. Your friends may laugh at your karaoke compilation, but it will probably turn off a potential employer.

Your telephone equipment

If possible, don't use your speakerphone or your cell phone. If you do use your cell phone, make sure that you are sitting in a quiet area with reliable access. Ignore call waiting when someone calls, they want to speak to you uninterrupted.

Be prepared

First, review your resume so you can talk easily about all your experiences and can answer questions about units, skills, why you left previous jobs, etc. Second, have the information about the employer at your fingertips. If you've applied for the job through MedHunters, go to the employer's Profile Page where you can link to the employer's website. If you haven't applied through MedHunters do a search for the employer online. Make a list of questions. Being prepared will show the recruiter that you are genuinely interested in the position, and s/he will spend more time talking with you.

Make notes during the interview, and for issues like salary and working hours, ask the employer to confirm the details by email. Finally, make sure you have your calendar or agenda close at hand in case a follow-up call or in-person interview is requested. If it will be someone other than your initial contact calling you, be sure to get his/her name, position, email, and phone number.

Don't waste time

Unlike in-person interviews, telephone interviews tend to be shorter and more focused, usually 10 to 20 minutes. Don't be put off if the interviewer seems somewhat abrupt. The interviewer generally has a strict timetable and wants to get as much information from you and to you in as little time as possible.

Verbal cues

To compensate for the lack of body language, use an energetic voice and relay verbal messages to indicate that you are engaged in the conversation. Affirmative expressions, such as "yes" and "sounds good," are positive ways of expressing interest. At the end of the interview, indicate to the recruiter that you've enjoyed talking to her/him, and, if there is mutual interest, ask about the next step in the process.


Write an email to the interviewer after the call. Use this email as an opportunity to ask any additional questions and to thank the interviewer for his/her time.


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