“Hi, this is Julianne calling from the company you applied for. Are you able to talk now? It’s about your job application you submitted a week ago..”

Here comes the first heart attack of the day. Nowadays, companies are beginning to fancy using phone interviews to shortlist candidates. And here you are, picking up the surprise phone call with complete silence; not knowing what to reply and stuttering your way through the conversation. This definitely does not reflect well on what you’re truly capable of. If this all sounds way too familiar, here are some precautions that you can take.

Let’s start with the to-do list.


1. Research

Do a little research before you apply for the company! It’s always a good practice to do a background check on the company you’re applying for so that you won’t end up working in an environment you don’t like. That’s what WOBB company profiles are for! What you can find, at least, will include company size, structure, industry, and products & services. Come up with a rough idea of their competitors as well. This will give you an advantage of understanding more about their nature in business.

The company’s website will be the first approach you can initiate in your research. Finding relevant articles about the company will give you a much more significant comprehension as well. To some extent, you may want to search for the employees on LinkedIn to have a better understanding of who you might be speaking with. If the interviewer sees that you have viewed their profile, this can work in your favour as it shows that you immerse yourself in the tedious work that is research.

2. Have your CV ready

Details about you on your CV will qualify enough information for the recruiters to even consider giving you a phone interview, that is why it is important to craft your CV meticulously!

Although phone interviews are typically conducted to know more about you personally and your communication skills, it is inevitable that the conversation will always segue back to your work experiences. There is always a good chance that the interviewer might have a copy of your resume on hand to cross check whether you are indeed able to portray who you claim to be on your CV.

Under the pressure of a phone interview, details that may help you land a second interview may have slipped past your mind even though you think you know yourself well. That being said, it would have been easier to refer back to your accomplishments when you have your CV ready on hand; am I right?

Need help in crafting an awesome CV? Check out our previous article about it!

3. Ask necessary questions

Once the interviewer is done with their questions, it’s your turn to ask! It’s called an interview after all. End the conversation with questions related to your job description, requirement, and nature. Of course, not the questions that you already know the answers to. Nor the kind of questions that were already covered during the phone interview.

By preparing questions to ask, your recruiters will take note of the impression that you are a strongwilled, well-researched, intelligent candidate. After all, that’s the kind of candidates that they’re seeking for.

4. Listen

Listening is ultimately going to be the most important element to consider. And you may be wondering why.

Let’s imagine that the company that is recruiting you has a standard procedure of letting the candidates know about the whole job descriptions and requirements during the phone interview. Without taking notes, all the information may slip off your mind once you are meeting them in a face-to-face interview. So, you find yourself asking questions on the things that were covered in the last conversation. That doesn’t seem so pretty, does it?

Taking all elements of the interviewers’ questions and make a note out of it is for you to refer back later. It can also be a cheat sheet when answering the inevitable question of ‘any other questions’ in the interview.

5. Have writing materials prepared

Having paper and a pen ready on your hand is going to help you take down the necessary notes. Once you do have them, take notes during or immediately after the call. The main focus of the phone interview is still to give the correct answers. Writing while answering may be diverting the focus for some people. So if you do find it distracting, do not occupy your time with taking notes down. You can make most of the notes when the call is over.

In your note, write critical things regarding the phone interview. How did you find the interview style to be, the interviewer’s demeanour, and time & date of the next scheduled interview.  These notes will help you to be more prepared for the face-to-face interview as the next step of shortlisting.

6. Focus and enunciate

Your voice becomes one of your only weapons in the phone interview. Voices that are clear, constantly upbeat, if combined with positive language and good answers will be the perfect combo for nailing phone interview!

Being focused is one of the major keys to correct answers. With its own limitation, phone calls tend to not give you the advantage of it. It is fine to even take a few quick seconds to compose your answers. However, do stay focus in order to limit the number of pauses you take before answering the questions.

7. Find an appropriate location

A conducive environment is another must in taking important calls, such as phone interview. Other than being able to hear the interviewer clearly through the phone, it will help you in being more focused as well.

Another factor that makes the location an appropriate one is the cell phone reception. Or, better yet, take it to the old fashion way of doing it through a landline phone. This is to ensure that the call is not going to be interrupted by any kind of preventable reasons.

8. Practice

This may be the kind of reaction your friends give you when being asked for a phone interview role-play practice. But, hey, this is for the benefit of everyone! While you are practicing with another person, they can give feedback for improvement. While that person is giving the feedback to you, they learn something new along the way!

Consider the common interview questions and prepare the answers beforehand. Other than overcoming interview questions, take note on your verbal ticks as well. Notice the speed, enunciation, and volume of your voice. You can also be #extra by recording your trial interview to pinpoint areas to improve yourself.

Don’t forget to address them with their names and thank them at the end of the interview!

Now that you know what to do. Here’s what you don’t do.  Apart from looking out for the good answers from you, interviewers are also looking for red flags in an interviewee’s behaviour through your phone etiquette.

Here come the lifesaving tips;


1. Eat, chew, drink, nor smoke

Maybe being on a call with your parents, friends, or significant others can be so casual that you can do it while having your mouth multitasking with another sound-making activity. But, your recruiters definitely do not fall under one of those circumstances.

“But, what if they call me during lunch hour?”

That happens occasionally and no one can guarantee that it won’t.

If you think that you can focus well and are ready, do the phone call in a phonetic manner. If not, politely inform the interviewer to do it another time. Do let them know your reason and schedule a much more suitable time for both of you.

2. Interrupt

Interrupting is probably one of the viable ways to irritate the interviewer. On a contrary to avoid it, let your interviewer finish their sentence before jumping into your response.

Allowing a gap of time will not only give the benefit to think of a coherent response. It will also make you not speak over the interviewer. Do ensure that there is a certain extent of caution in giving those gaps of time. Differentiate the fine line between a polite pause and an awkward silence.

3. Sound unenthusiastic

Remember how we pointed out “strongwilled candidate” to be the ideal candidate you would like to be? Well, being enthusiastic and not bored during the call are the two things to help you become a strongwilled candidate.

Making sure that you sound positive and not yawning nor mumbling your way out in your responses are definitely the key points to portray your enthusiasm. If you have hesitation on certain things said by your interviewer, do ask. Trying to respond to them with a question mark following the response will make you sound not confident enough to your recruiter. You want to avoid it by sounding bold with no dubiousness.

4. Get distracted

Pretty much another reminder to stay focus during your phone interview. We have to bring this up because it is important. Perhaps if you look at it from the interviewer’s perspective, you will clearly see why.

Ask yourself this:

“Will I hire someone who keeps on asking me to repeat what I’m saying, although the phone call is completely clear and not interrupted by anything?”

The answer is no. Because chances are, the candidate may not be paying full attention during the phone interview. And of course, no one wants to be that candidate.

5. Take it lightly

As the early stage of shortlisting, people tend to take phone interviews less seriously. That is one mistake that needs to be avoided by everyone. Every single step that happens in shortlisting is important. Each step should provide progress to it and soon leads to the end result of selection.

Take phone interview as seriously as a face-to-face interview and value it to be the first step of winning the job. With that in mind, hopefully, you are able to perceive phone interview to be a bigger thing rather than ‘just a phone call with a recruiter’.

6. Hang up

Well, that does not necessarily give you the chance to do the ‘hang up’ catfight with your significant others in a phone interview. First of all, it’s inappropriate to tell the recruiter to hang up first. It’s just a plain ‘NO’.

Always make sure that the interviewer is going to sign off before you hang up. Leave about a gap of 2 seconds after the end of the interview. Or better yet, wait for the interviewer to hang up first before you do.

7. Panic

Breathing uncontrollably loud, stuttering, and having your voice to sound tense due to agitation are the common things to tolerate on your first presentation back in primary school. But, in a phone interview? Never will it ever be tolerated by any recruiter.

When you’re having trouble finding the right answer or the time seems to be not right for you to do the phone interview, do let the recruiters know. Reason yourself on a strong basis and reschedule your phone interview. In the meantime, keep on practicing your interview skills and try to maintain your nervous level low.

8. Use “weak” language

What does “weak” in this connotation? No, it does not mean that you have to go to the gym before answering the call. Weak language is commonly known as any word that does not add value to the message. Below is the list of weak language to be avoided:

  • Uhm
  • Yeah
  • Like
  • O.K.
  • I guess

Not only does weak language not give any value to the message, it also cuts down and cripples the meaning of the message. Try finding ways to eliminate your common weak language and find the better replacement for all of them. This will not only benefit your interviewing skills. It will give you more confidence in delivering a speech as well.

For more ways to overcome or replace weak language, check out these articles below:

Forbes – Do You Sabotage Yourself by Using Weak Language?

The Polyman – Are You Using Weak Words? Stop Right Now.

Others: rush through the interview and take your call while driving or while you are in your current workplace!


Phone interviews are basically the ‘ticket’ to your face-to-face interview, which is ultimately your biggest opportunity to reveal your skills and sell yourself to your employers. Everything that goes down in a phone interview will contribute to the fundamental preliminary decisions of the recruiter.

One day, when the phone rings as soon as you submit gazillion job applications; ponder upon this article. Hopefully, through our help, you’re able to nail the interview and land the position! Last but not least, always use WOBB in finding the job you’ll love!



Posted by Mutiara Simanjuntak

I/ENTJ. A lazy deontologist. Part-time columnist, full-time rambler.