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How to Prepare for a Phone Interview


Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

I would recommend preparing the same way you would face to face. Research the company first and foremost. Be prepared to tell them about themselves and what they do. Have some questions prepared to ask them. Employers love that. Ask about future expansion, organizational structure, etc. You will get a feel for how the interview is going as they ask questions. It may be a way to weed out candidates if they have a lot. Good luck!

Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

Agreed, Christie. Phone or face-to-face - prep is the same. Candidates have to show how they can solve the kinds of problems the company is experiencing. It's not about what you did; it's about how what you did impacted the organization.

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

Look at a phone interview like an open book test. Prepare as Christie and Cindy recommend. But take advantage of this situation and write down your questions and organize material you can reference. Practice and sound natural, but use these tools you would not have in a live interview.

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Some companies use the initial phone interview to qualify a candidate for cultural fit. Focus your research around culture fit with the company.

Initial questions you should ask prior to the phone interview:
1. What is the purpose of the phone interview?
2. Will the phone interview focus on job skills for the role or cultural fit?
3. Who will the interviewer be? HR? or Hiring Manager?
4. Is there a job opening that you are working to fill? Or is this a passive interview?
(many companies are interviewing but are not hiring and there is no open position.)
5. Who is the employer? The company or a staffing agency?
6. Will there be a potential for the job to close after an offer is made?
(lately I have seen companies withdraw offers because their existing employee changed their mind about leaving.)

There is little honor today in the hiring process so you need to vet the job to your satisfaction before you waste your time researching a company that doesn't actually have an open position.

I have personally been impacted by this 4 times in the last 2 years and someone I know just had an offer rescinded due to #6 above.

If you ask your own qualifying questions, you will eliminate the non-jobs early, and make HR aware that you are interested and are being careful about your next move. These questions lead to other information disclosed because the HR person is not prepared to answer them. You might learn more than you expected prior to the interview.

Use that offer of "do you have any questions" to your advantage. There are no rules.

Topic Expert
Mark Richards
Title: VP Operations and Finance
Company: VP / CFO - Private Company
(VP Operations and Finance, VP / CFO - Private Company) |

Agree with prior comments that phone versus face-to-face preparation is the same.

If you have specific questions (after you've done good research), there's no reason to e-mail them in advance of the interview. So ask your HR contact to forward them if you don't have the interviewer name/contact details.

Shorten your answers and focusing them on results, less so the means of getting the result. If they want more details they will ask. But also, don't be afraid to tell them that you give highlights and let them pick where they want more information.

You cannot see their facial/body language and it's likely they will be multi-tasking, so keeping on point is critical. Practice your answers aloud - at least six times - to help you cut out the fat and stay focused.

Lastly, there are a number of excellent webinars on Proformative for job search networking, interview preparation, etc. - they can give you great ideas.

Good luck and hope this helps you along,


Topic Expert
Henry Schumann
Title: Manager FP&A
Company: Allscripts
(Manager FP&A, Allscripts) |

I may just be reiterating the comments above, but phone interviews are just like in person without the interviewer in the same room. Do your homework on both the company AND the interviewer. Have your notes spread around and easily accessible.

One other thing is to stand up and walk around while on the phone. Your voice will project more energy to the person(s) on the other end of the line than if you are slumped in a chair.

Topic Expert
Linda Wright
Title: Consultant
Company: Wright Consulting
(Consultant, Wright Consulting) |

I think Henry's point about standing is helpful. I also recommend "dressing for the part". You will feel more professional if you do. Finally, I suggest that you pause frequently to allow the interview to ask questions, clarify or move on, as you cannot see body language.


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