Clemson Center for Career and Professional Development

Career Development & Recruiting

How to Ace a Telephone Job Interview

By Kevin Donlin, Guaranteed Resumes
This article and many more can be found at

A job interview by telephone can be an exercise in frustration, full of awkward silences. Or, it can be a chance to set yourself apart from the competition. In either case, it's all in how you prepare.

Here are three tips to help you prepare for and ace your next telephone interview:

Do your homework. You can make a tremendous first impression by researching your potential employer online or in your local library. Your goal is twofold: know the company and its products (so you can talk intelligently) and know the company's problems and competitors (so you can offer solutions).

Things to look for on a corporate website include annual reports, mission statements and service descriptions. And be sure to check out the job postings, which can shed light on a company's future direction.

You should also use your research to devise two to three solutions to problems your potential employer might face. Examples: new technology from competitors, low-priced imports, etc. Consider writing your solutions down and e-mailing or faxing them to the employer before your phone interview -- this will REALLY give you something to talk about.

Show your stuff. Since you won't be face to face with your interviewers, it's important for you to prove you can do the job during your conversation. Years ago, I did a telephone interview for a position as a high school German teacher and had to speak that language for 20 minutes. (I'm now a resume writer, which tells you something about my German ability.)

What can you prove by phone? Try to anticipate the questions you'll be asked that demonstrate you can do the job. Then, prepare accordingly.

Mind your mannerisms. When you talk on the phone, smile. Believe it or not, smiling as you talk makes your voice sound much more friendly and enthusiastic. For practice, put on a big smile and go re-record the message on your answering machine. Then listen to the difference.

Finally, stay focused during your telephone interview. It's easy to get distracted by happy chat or background noises. There'll be plenty of time to discuss sports and weather after you've been hired.

Best of luck to you!

Kevin Donlin is the author of "Resume and Cover Letter Secrets Revealed," a do-it-yourself manual that will help you find a job in 30 days … or your money back. For more information, please visit