CB Recruitment Blog

20 Phone Interview tips to get you a Second Interview

Cover image for 20 Phone Interview tips to get you a Second Interview

Do you need to know 20 phone interview tips? Good question. Let’s find out.

After months of receiving rejection letters or no response from prospective employers, your resume finally caught a hiring manager’s attention. At last, you’ve received an invite to a phone interview or a remote video interview.

Perhaps this is your first phone interview, and you’re unsure of the correct protocol, but you want to do well and get to a second interview. We understand the challenges of knowing the best phone interview techniques because it’s not easy when you don’t know what to expect. As a result of many candidates asking, we’ve put together the 20 best tips for a phone interview.

The good news is that you have an interview. Well done, what a great start. Before your interview, read powerful answers to the top 10 interview questions.

This guide will show you how to nail a phone interview, so let’s find out how you can impress the hiring manager with an exceptional phone interview.


Why do some employers conduct phone interviews?

For every job advertised, a hiring manager may receive hundreds of applications. After screening resumes, the list of potentially suitable candidates could still be high. In-person interviews are time-consuming, tying up valuable resources.

A phone interview is ideal for a hiring manager to screen applications. Above all, it’s still an interview, so take it as seriously as an in-person interview. It’s unlikely you’ll get a job offer from a phone interview, but at the least, your objective should be to get to a second interview.

When you meet a hiring manager in person, it can be easier to build rapport. You shake hands, smile, nod, and engage with the interviewer. You can model behaviour and voice tone and things like that.

The occasional silence for contemplating questions is acceptable because the hiring manager can see you. They understand you’re considering a response. On the phone, an extended silence could be embarrassing and cost you a second interview.

Above all, a phone interview is not easier than an in-person interview. If anything, there are more chances to make a mess of it. Find out the top 10 biggest interview mistakes.

What to expect during a phone interview?

The hiring manager has the sole purpose of eliminating unsuitable applicants. Typically, you’ll speak to one person on the call, and you’ve no way of knowing if the interview style will be conversational or formal until the interview begins.

Here are a few things the hiring manager may ask you: –

  • Questions regarding your personal life: for instance, are you married, single, have children etc
  • Your availability to start work
  • Salary expectations
  • Random questions: these can catch you off guard
  • Typical job interview questions

The conversation should flow smoothly. If you’re nervous, you may talk too much. Be aware of becoming an active listener and pause for a few seconds before responding to a question.

It’s unlikely that the hiring manager will invite you to a second interview on the call. Considering there may be many more applicants to interview, the hiring manager’s job is to create a short list of candidates once everyone has completed a phone interview.

20 tips for phone interview success

Below are the top phone interview tips that will increase your chances of securing a second interview. Don’t underestimate the power of the phone interview because if you get it right, you’ll stand out among other candidates.

Take a phone interview as seriously as an in-person interview

Failure to prepare for your phone interview is a recipe for failure. You must be ready mentally and physically to present your best self to the hiring manager as soon as you pick up the phone. Here are a few preparation tips for phone interviews: –

  • Have a hot or cold drink to relax your vocal cords (not alcohol, no matter how nervous you feel).
  • Take a shower, and brush your teeth so you feel fresh and invigorated.
  • Dress for an interview: you might think sitting in your jogging pants and trainers for a phone interview is acceptable, but it isn’t. How you dress influences your mindset.
  • If the phone interview time is unplanned, and you haven’t had time to prepare, don’t answer the call. Listen to the voice message or check the number if the caller doesn’t leave a message. After that, prepare yourself and return the call. If you pick up an unexpected call, ask the hiring manager if you can reschedule because you aren’t available to speak.

Remove all distractions

Find a quiet room in the house or wherever you are and close the door. Turn off the TV or radio. If you have a dog, make sure it is out of the room. The same rule applies to children. Unnecessary interruptions are unprofessional, so do your utmost to prevent them.

Turn off notifications on your phone and computer if it is nearby. Either choose to stand or sit and never lay down because it makes your voice sound monotone. You wouldn’t do it during an in-person interview, so don’t do it during a phone interview.

You may wish to take notes or have your notes nearby, so have a hard surface on hand, like a desk or table.

Manage unexpected environmental noise

It’s interview day and the day the neighbour decides to get the builders to start construction work. Above all, it happens. You can do nothing to influence outside noise like lawn mowers, dogs barking, construction sounds etc.

Firstly, don’t panic. It won’t be the first time the hiring manager has experienced such challenges. Ask if you can move to another room, close the windows or, at worst, reschedule the interview for later at a different location.

Secondly, don’t try winging it. You’ll gain more respect by bringing the issue into the open and making alternative arrangements.

Research the company before the interview

Firstly, print off the job specification before the interview and read it thoroughly.

Secondly, research the company by visiting their website and doing a Google search. For example, you may discover recent successes, a new CEO, innovative new products, VC funding, etc. After that, study the powerful answers to the top 10 interview questions so you are fully prepared for the interview.

It’s also helpful to check the company’s social media accounts. How do they interact with their followers? What’s the conversational style? Checking details can help you assess how the hiring manager’s interview style might roll out.

If you know the hiring manager’s name, follow their digital footprint. Do they have a LinkedIn presence, and what is their work history?

Why must you do all this work for every phone interview? Because most candidates don’t do research, and that’s how you can stand out from the competition. A candidate who speaks with knowledge about the company is noticeable. It creates a memorable impression.

Listen and don’t interrupt the conversation

The phone interview should be a two-way conversation. The interviewer asks a question and expects an answer. Great, but keep the conversation on point. Long waffling answers take up too much time. The hiring manager loses interest, and you may as well hang up as your chances of getting a second interview are precisely zero.

Allow the interviewer to guide the call and never interrupt mid-conversation. Demonstrate your active listening skills and jot down questions as they arise so you can ask later during the call.

Prepare a pre-interview cheat sheet

If you’ve researched the company and the hiring manager, add these details to your cheat sheet. During the conversation, you can filter in questions (when appropriate) or refer to the points you’ve uncovered. The hiring manager doesn’t know these things are written on your list but is pleasantly surprised by your knowledge level.

Breathe slowly

When we are nervous, things tend to speed up. The prefrontal cortex is the chairman of the brain, responsible for cognitive function. Under stress, the limbic system kicks in. The amygdala takes over, and we get caught in a fight, flight or freeze response. You might act or say stupid things in those moments and afterwards wonder what happened.

Don’t worry. It happens to us all because it’s a normal human stress response. The best way to overcome it is to breathe deeply, pause before speaking, and become aware of your body’s tension.

Firstly, make sure the hiring manager has stopped speaking before you reply. Even if they’ve asked a question, they may continue talking for a moment. Hey, hiring managers are human too. These are the moments to listen and breathe deeply. Prepare for your response, so you don’t speak incoherent gobbledygook.

Stop if you find that you and the hiring manager are speaking over each other. Wait a moment until there’s a significant pause. Now, you’re ready, feeling relaxed and can answer concisely. Speak slowly, and take a breath when needed, so you don’t run out of air mid-conversation.

Be polite and allow the hiring manager to lead the call. Suppose they begin with a friendly chat, great. If not, go with the flow.

Try standing up during the call

Sometimes, if you’re nervous, it can help to stand during the interview, and you may wish to move. If you’re sitting down, it can impede your breathing if you begin slumping into your chair. Standing and moving about make your energy levels rise a little, making your voice more animated.

Be prepared for the common phone interview questions

Be ready for the standard interview questions. For instance: –

  • Skills and qualifications
  • Current job
  • Your weaknesses and strengths
  • Reason for leaving current position
  • Personal situation
  • Salary expectations
  • Availability
  • Why you want the job
  • Why are you the perfect person for the job?
  • Future career goals
  • How you manage stress

Preparing for these questions in advance means you do not falter when responding. You sound more confident, and the conversation flows.

Check if the hiring manager is calling you

It might seem obvious that the hiring manager will call you, but it isn’t always the case. If the company has a freephone number, they may ask you to call. Clarify these details before the day.

Use an appropriate greeting

When you pick up the call, smile and state your name, for instance, “Good morning, this is John Smith speaking“, and the hiring manager knows he is speaking to the right person. Your response sounds professional and sets the tone for the rest of the call.

Check your phone battery

If the interview is on your mobile phone, ensure you charge the battery before the interview begins. If you suddenly discover the battery is low, keep it plugged in during the call.

Check your mobile signal

When a call breaks up or cuts out during a phone interview, getting the call back on track can be challenging, especially if it happens several times.

If you know the signal in your area is poor, either arrange to be somewhere you can access a strong phone signal or request a call to a landline. Tell the hiring manager of the difficulties so you can make alternative arrangements before the phone interview.


When we smile, it changes our voice, making it sound more animated. To test out this theory, record a sentence or two without smiling and then try it with a smile. You’ll notice the difference, and so will the hiring manager.

Don’t force small talk

You may be itching to build rapport with the hiring manager and feel frustrated if they launch into the interview questions without small talk. Remember, it’s no reflection on you as a candidate. If the hiring manager has many candidates to interview, time is of the essence. You can better nail a phone interview by following the hiring manager’s leads.

Stay engaged with the conversation

During an in-person interview, it’s easy to show engagement with the conversation. However, during a phone interview, it’s not so easy. The hiring manager may sometimes talk for more than a few minutes. When there’s a slight pause, add in a filler such as “OK“, “yes“, “I understand“, or similar, so you stay connected with the conversation.

Have a glass of water on hand

You may have a dry mouth if you’re nervous about the interview. Have a drink before the interview begins and take a sip of water if necessary during the call.

Update your voicemail message

If the call goes to voicemail unexpectedly, an unprofessional message could damage the interview potential before it begins. It doesn’t need to be complicated. State your name and ask the caller to leave a message.

Direct the hiring manager to your website

Create a simple website to reflect your brand. Highlight your work experience, qualifications, and personal attributes like your soft skills. Link to appropriate social media channels that reflect your suitability as a candidate.

At the end of the phone interview, most hiring managers ask if there is anything you would like to add, which is a perfect opportunity to direct them to your website. You might say, “Yes, I have a personal website that highlights my work accomplishments and personal experience. I would love for you to take a look because the website demonstrates my suitability for this position.” Use words of your own but along these lines.

As many candidates will not have a personally branded website, it helps you to stand out as an exceptional candidate.

Send a thank you email to the hiring manager

The phone interview is over. You’re still interested in the position and feel the interview went well. Don’t stop there. As soon as possible after the interview, send a thank you email to the hiring manager. It needn’t be more than a few paragraphs expressing thanks for their time and stating your enthusiasm and interest in the position. You can add your website URL and social media channels after you sign off the email.

Why bother sending a thank you email? Because so few candidates follow up after interviews. In addition, it could help your application if there’s another candidate with similar experience. If the hiring manager has to decide between you, the chances are that a polite follow-up email may position you ahead.

Conclusion: 20 phone interview tips that will get you a second interview

With some practice and preparation, you’ll become a phone interview pro by following the top 20 phone interview tips.

There’s no excuse to be lazy, thinking it doesn’t matter because the hiring manager cannot see you. The sound of your voice, your responses and your attitude can make all the difference.

Most candidates fail to get past this first screening interview, and only the best make it to a second interview. If you have the hard and soft skills listed in the job specification, there’s no reason why you cannot get to the next stage.

It’s more challenging to build rapport with a hiring manager on the phone. Still, develop active listening skills, breathe deeply, and engage 100%, and you will quickly find the hiring manager relaxing and warming to you as a person.

If you’re looking for your next job and would love to work in the cryptocurrency industry, we have many excellent Web3 careers in blockchain, the metaverse, and more. In addition, as many skills are transferable, it’s possible to get an entry-level job in cryptocurrency.

Contact the CB Recruitment team, upload your resume and let’s see how we can help you.


How long does a phone interview last?

On average, anticipate a phone interview lasting approximately 30 minutes.

How about phone screening interview tips?

The same rules for phone interview tips apply if the hiring manager uses video screening on the phone. Dress smartly and choose a distraction-free background and follow the phone job interview tips.

What are Zoom interview tips?

It’s no different from phone screening, except ensure your internet signal is strong enough to support a 30-minute Zoom call. Follow the tips for phone interviews, and you’ll make a good impression.

What is the purpose of a phone interview?

There could be several reasons for a phone interview: –

  • Eliminate unsuitable candidates
  • The candidate lives in another country or far from the office base
  • There are so many applicants that the hiring manager wants to reduce time
  • Lockdown during the pandemic

What if I make a mistake during a phone interview?

You won’t be the first to make a mistake during a phone interview. Occasionally nerves get the better of you. The trick is to learn the 20 phone interview tips by heart. Why? Because there’s a 100% chance that you will be less nervous if you prepare for the phone interview.

Make notes before the interview, research the hiring manager and company and follow the other things listed on the phone interview tips.

About Author

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Jan Barley

Jan is a SEO copywriter, brand advisor, content strategist & case study specialist writing for crypto, recruitment, and SaaS companies. Jan lives in the Cotswold's UK with two rescue dogs. Since 2020, Jan has written hundreds of SEO articles for various crypto companies including CB Recruitment & Coin Bureau.

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