5 Rules of Phone Interview Etiquette

February 9, 2016 Jim Combs


As a leading technical expert in your field, you have decades of experience, outstanding academic credentials and impressive accomplishments. That said, we’ve seen the best expert candidates lose projects because of poor interview skills.  After all, for those just entering encore careers, your interview skills might be a little rusty. 

To put your best foot forward and win more projects, follow these five rules of phone interview etiquette:

1. Prepare.

Have a copy of your resume and materials to take notes. Find a quiet place and avoid using a cell or speaker phone whenever possible. Have the description of the assignment in front of you for reference and take time to look-up the client and company by visiting their website or LinkedIn page/profile.

2. Stay on-point.

Keep your answers concise and focus on aspects of your background that are relevant to the client and project.

3. Pay attention.

Address the questions you are asked. If you feel you are losing the interest of the client, shorten your answers. Leave time for the client to respond to your questions or to share additional information about the assignment.

4. Remember basic courtesies.

Listen carefully, avoid eating or drinking while on the call, and avoid negative comments about former employers, coworkers or projects. Use professional language at all times.

5. Don’t solve the problem.

Keep in mind that initial calls and interviews may not be the time to solve the problem at hand. Show that you understand the need and are positioned to help address it.

Common sense?  Yes it is, but we've found that common sense is not always common practice.  Follow these simple rules and your chances of winning projects will certainly improve. 

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