Great Resumes Fast » Resume Writing Tips » The Telephone Interview – 10 Tips For Making a Good Impression

They liked the cover letter, they were impressed by your resume, but before you get that oh-so-coveted face-to-face meeting, you’ve still one more test to pass: the telephone interview. So making a good impression is paramount.

Telephone interviews present their own unique challenges; people act differently on the phone, your posture, facial expressions, clothing, etc. cannot be seen by the party on the other line so the tendency is to relax-become more informal. Sometimes, people are more difficult to understand over the telephone; so dialect, accent, local vernacular can work against you. Then there are outside factors like traffic noise, the clicking of a keyboard, and other voices. All of these elements can work against you when you’re interviewing over the phone. So before you begin, take note of these 10 tips for making a great impression:

1. In the days before the interview, formulate questions and make a list. Then, during the interview, keep them in front of you. As you address each one, tick it off your list. Add new questions as they occur.

2. Gather your resume and other documents so that you can refer to them during the interview. Highlighting key information and dates may also help-we know you’ve seen your own resume 100 times, but nerves can make even the best of us become flustered. So make it as easy for yourself as you can.

3. Go to the toilet before the interview begins. The call of nature is the last thing you want to be thinking about during this crucial conversation.

4. Hold the interview in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed; preferably one with a table at which you can sit and take notes. Background noises and interruptions can be both distracting and leave a bad impression with the interviewer. Never hold a telephone interview outside where wind and traffic noise can interfere; and avoid holding it during working hours unless you can ensure quiet and uninterrupted time.

5. Take notes. Note-taking serves two purposes; it keeps you on track with the conversation and provides information which will help you strengthen your face-to-face interview. Take the notes by hand; don’t be tempted to use the keyboard-the sound of keys clacking can be distracting.

6. Listen carefully and speak clearly. Keep your responses concise, don’t ramble, and avoid using local vernacular or slang. Say something once; avoid repeating yourself. Don’t interrupt the interviewer and don’t feel rushed to fill pauses with sound. If you need a moment to think out your response, say so and then be quiet. Avoid making “thinking” noises.

7. Smile when you speak. Even though they can’t see you, the interviewer will perceive you in a better light if you are smiling while you talk.

8. Maintain a professional attitude. It is easy to slip into casual conversation mode when you’re on the telephone, but don’t be tempted. A telephone interview should be held with the same level of professionalism as a face-to-face interview. This is not a friendly chat; this is an audition.

9. Stay aware of the time; don’t let this be the telephone interview that never ends. When you’re done, establish what will happen next and thank your interviewer by name.

10. If you forget something, don’t phone back. It may be tempting, but it’s usually not a good idea. The best thing to do is to make a note of what you’ve forgotten so that you can address it if/when you get that face-to-face interview or in the follow-up thank you note that you send to the interviewer (always send a thank you note within the next 24 hours after your telephone interview).

A telephone interview is the last stepping stone between you and that coveted face-to-face where we know you will shine. By using these 10 tips, you are armed and ready to make a great impression.

One of the nation’s leading authorities on executive resume writing, personal branding, and job searching, Michelle Dumas is the founder of Distinctive Career Services LLC. Since 1996, Michelle has empowered thousands of executives worldwide with powerful branded resumes, executive portfolios, and job search campaigns that get results and win top-tier 6- and 7-figure jobs fast. Visit for free information and resources.

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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!


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  2. Lorraine McKnight on March 15, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Great suggestions, I also recommend that people learn to temporarily turn off the call waiting on their phone to avoid the annoying pause in the conversation, when someone is calling. With Sprint you have to call out to temporarily cancel call waiting I believe it is #70 then the number and it will return when you make the next call out.

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