Tips For A Successful Phone Interview

So you’ve submitted a job application and you’ve made it through to the next round of screening: the phone interview.

Telephone interviews are becoming increasingly popular with employers as a way to narrow down the candidate pool and get to know their applicants. It’s your first chance to make a good impression and really sell yourself, so performing well in a phone interview is an important skill to work on.

So to help you ace your next phone interview, we’ve put together some of our top tips:

Before the interview:

As with any interview, the first step to success in your phone interview is being well prepared.

The purpose of the phone interview is typically to check whether your skills and experience align with the requirements for the job and if you are a suitable candidate. So focus on learning about the company, what you could bring to the role, and how to answer common competency based questions. For tips on how to answer common interview questions, check out our previous blog here.

Some of the types of questions you might expect to be asked at a phone interview are:

  • Walk me through your CV
  • What are your biggest strengths / weaknesses?
  • What first attracted you to the role?
  • What could you bring to the company / why should we hire you?
  • What would your current colleagues say about you?
  • Why are you looking for a new job?

Be sure to think of some solid anecdotal evidence for the claims you make on your CV. The interviewer will be fact-checking your application, so being able to effectively demonstrate how you have applied your skills in previous roles is essential.

To make sure that your anecdotes are sufficiently detailed, but remain focused, use the STAR method:

  • Situation: The context of the scenario and the challenge you faced.
  • Task: Describe your responsibility in the situation and what you needed to do or achieve.
  • Action: The steps you took to complete the task, focusing on what you did, not the actions of others.
  • Result: Explain the outcome of your actions and what you learned from the situation.

You don’t need to think of a different scenario for every one of your skills. Instead, try to come up with three or four strong anecdotes that each cover a few of the skills you’ve mentioned on your CV.

Tip: Keep a copy of your CV and the job description in front of you so that you can refer to them throughout the interview.

During the interview

One of the common places that candidates fall down is in thinking that an interview is less formal when it takes place over the phone, so be sure to approach your phone interview just as you would a face-to-face interview.

Be prepared, make sure you know the organisation and the role, and maintain the same level of professionalism that you would if they were in the room. If it will help you feel the part, you might even want to dress like you would if you were going for a face-to-face interview.

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face during a phone interview is that, when you can’t see the interviewer, it can be difficult to gauge their reactions to your answers. This can often result in feeling like you need to keep talking for longer than you otherwise would have. Although easier said than done, stay calm, keep your answers concise and be comfortable stopping speaking once you’ve made your point.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to take a few seconds to think before you answer a question. Taking a moment will allow you to formulate a much stronger answer and leaving a short break will also ensure that you don’t speak over the interviewer by mistake.

Just like any aspect of a job application, performing well in a phone interview is a skill - and as you get more practice, you will start to feel more comfortable and see more success. But remembering these tips and taking the time to develop your answers to common interview questions will give you a headstart.

XCL are experts at helping skilled and experienced workers enter the next stage of their career. Specialising in the automotive, construction, engineering, production and commercial sectors, we can work with you to improve your applications and help you find your ideal job.

With our consultants’ extensive recruitment experience and our bespoke Matchmaker software, we can find the roles (and employers) that are best suited to you, and we’ll only ever contact you regarding jobs that we genuinely believe you will be interested in.

To find out more about how XCL can help you find your next job, send a copy of your CV to, or apply for one of our current vacancies here.