Phone Interview Jitters

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I FINALLY got a call from a company I have always wanted to work for.  I’m scheduled for a phone interview next week.  I’m really nervous and afraid I am going to mess up the interview.  How can I make sure that I am prepared for the interview? 

Congratulations on your interview!  Getting a call from a company you’ve submitted your resume to for a position that you’re excited about is a really big deal.  With the current state of the economy, there are a lot of applicants applying to positions and very few that are being hired (unless you’re in the engineering field.  If you’re wondering what field is a good field to get in to, ENGINEERING!!!).  I can understand why you’d be nervous, excited and a bit scare at the prospect of being able to show how your skills align with what the company is looking for, put your best foot forward and try to convince them why they need to bring you in for a face to face interview.  Sound daunting? 


Enough said about that, no need to make you any more scared.  What should you do to help you be prepared for the phone interview?  I like to think of interviews like tests.   Remember back in high school or college when you had a big test coming up so you would try to cram everything you could in to your brain to try to remember for the test?  Preparing for a college exam is a lot like preparing for an interview.  You’re trying to remember all the projects you’ve worked on, the technology you’ve been exposed to, the experience you’ve had.   Now the good news in all of this is that you’re first interview is a phone interview, kind of like an open book test.  The person who’s conducting the interview could care less if you have “cheat sheets” in front of you or not.  And cheat sheets are the way to go! 


So, it’s an open book test, you’re allowed to have cheat sheets, but what do you need on the cheat sheets?  There are a few different things that you’ll want to research and have available to you at your fingertips for your interview:


1.                               Make sure you’ve gone to the company’s website and poked around.  Know about the company’s history and why you would want to work for the company.  Chances are you will be asked a question something similar to “why do you want to work for xyz company?” or “what are you looking for in your next position?” Bingo…you’ll be able to talk about things within the company that align with your goals and it will show you took the time to do some research

2.                               Read through the job description and take notes.  If you’ve read my previous posts, you know how important keywords are.  You thought that was just for your resume!  Keywords come back for the interview as well.  Write down from the job description some of the key things they are looking for.  It could be someone with project management experience in excess of $xxx amount or whatever it is.  Right down what they’re looking for and also think about what you’ve done and have an example ready to talk about.  In the example above using the project management experience, you would want to talk about what the project was, the budget and what your individual role was within the project.

3.                               Have examples ready that go over things that you’ve done where you’ve encountered challenges and were able to overcome them, turn what could have been a negative into a positive. 

4.                               Relax


Most importantly, you are going to want to be yourself over the phone.  A lot of the time the initial phone interview you have will be with someone from HR (Human Resources) who may not be all that familiar with the position.  In that case, it will not be a real “position specific” interview as much as “how do you communicate over the phone” and “do you meet the minimum qualifications for the position.”


Good luck, let me know how it turns out!


Have a question for Resume Survis Lady?  Leave a comment or send her an email at:


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kees2create
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 00:19:56

    Great advice! Having the internet at your fingertips is a good way to research companies as you apply. Employers are always impressed when you know a little about their history and their business at an interview.


  2. Rani Chopra
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 18:09:41

    Great tips !!! It alwsys helps to know about the company that is going to interview you. I always have my laptop open when Im doing a phone interview so I can quickly look up something if I need to.
    Rani Chopra


  3. Samantha Bangayan
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 18:44:13

    This might be a personal tactic, but I’ve found that it makes a difference when I try to act like it’s a face-to-face interview. Facial expressions, such as smiles, can often be communicated through the voice. I’ve heard that some people also like to dress up for the phone interview, even if the interviewer isn’t able to see them, because it puts them in the right mood for the interview! =)


  4. Jeannette Paladino
    Apr 01, 2011 @ 13:57:37

    Excellent tips — I would add one more. Always look for an opportunity during the course of the interview to ask for a personal meeting. This is delicate because often the first phone interview is with a recruiter (internal or external) and, sad to say, they are trying to rule people out to come up with a manageable group of candidates. But you can’t get hired if you don’t get a meeting. So, as you’re discussing your credentials, you could say something like, “I’d be happy to bring samples to show you.” The important thing is get a commitment to the next step before you get off the phone: another phone call, a personal meeting, a call with someone else in the company, whatever. Keep it going!


  5. farouk
    Apr 02, 2011 @ 04:09:49

    that was useful
    thank you 🙂


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