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How to Have a Good Phone Interview

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by Myrin New

How to have a good phone interview with today’s economy being in as poor a shape as it is, and jobs being so scarce, many New Yorkers are applying for opportunities and part time jobs in New York as well as out of state! Knowing this, many potential employers are now doing job interviews over the phone. This allows them the ability to check out more employee prospects without having to cover the costs of seeing the out of state applicant in person. Another reason telephone interviews are becoming more popular with part time jobs in New York is that it becomes easier to weed out applicants in a 5 minute phone interview than a face-to-face chat that could last as long as an hour or more. Knowing that, you the applicant need to be suited for interviews over the phone and be prepared as they could come at any time! Here are some tips on how to interview over the phone.

Research Company

You can believe the company is going to do research on you before they call you for a phone interview, so you had better do some research of your own. With the internet, you can look up any company and find out all kinds of information about it (especially since most companies have a website). Find out where the company is located and if it has multiple branches. See what the company actually does. And most importantly, find out exactly what the job you’re applying for entails. 9 times out of 10, the interviewer will end up asking you “Why do you want to work for [the company he could be hiring you for]?” If you don’t know what the company does or what you’d be doing at the company, you might sound pretty foolish stumbling through this answer.


The old saying “practice makes perfect” might not be entirely accurate, but it definitely helps. There are certain questions that almost every interviewer asks. “Why do you want to work for this company?” “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” “What are your short term goals and long term goals?” “What are your strengths and weaknesses” and “What makes you the best candidate for the job?” Figure out your answers to each of these often asked questions ahead of time (as well as other possible interview questions) and practice saying it. The goal here is not to memorize your answer so that you sound like a robot reciting lines. It’s so you don’t stumble over your words and waste any of the interviewer’s time. Practice with a friend or family member. Have them be the interviewer and you be… well, you! Record the mock interview and study the tapes carefully. Try to find trouble places where you have long pauses or verbal tics like “um”, “uh”, and “like”. Eradicate these simple words from your vocabulary. You might not realize you say them when speaking, but an interviewer can quickly become annoyed by hearing you say “um” 3 times every sentence.

Take Notes

Have a pen and paper ready and waiting by the phone for when that phone interview might happen. Make notes of the interviewer’s name and the company they’re calling for. When they describe the position to you, write down all the important parts such as title, hours and pay. Make sure that if you ask the interviewer any questions that he/she didn’t cover, that you write down their answers. It’s also a good idea to keep note of what questions they asked you. This gives allows you to know exactly what you talked about for if you get a second phone interview, or better yet, an in-person interview.

Follow Up

At the end of the interview, thank the interviewer for their time and ask when you might hear from them or someone else in the company again. Ask if you can meet them for an in-person interview. Ask when they might be making their hiring decisions. Thank them for their time (I know I said this already, but it’s pertinent!). If they have not given you a specific time frame, be sure to call the company in a few days to follow up on the interview and see if any new information (like a hiring decision) has become available.

If you follow these tips, you should have a great phone interview. And make sure to read your notes afterward. If you don’t get this job, you can use it as practice for future phone interviews for full time or part time jobs in New York. Also, remember to smile when giving the interview. Smiling changes your vocal tone and makes you sound much more positive. Employers like that.

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