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Phone Interview Etiquette

A phone interview may seem more relaxed than an in-person interview, but you still need to make the best impression possible. Learn tips for nailing your next phone interview.

If you are searching for a job near your service member's next duty station but haven't moved yet, prospective employers may want to conduct a phone interview. Many organizations also use phone interviews to screen candidates before in-person interviews. While phone interviews may seem less formal than face-to-face interviews, you should still follow certain interview etiquette.

Preparing for your phone interview

  • Just like an in-person interview, you need to be prepared.
    • Research the company.
    • Study the job requirements, preferences, skills and experience requirements listed on the position description.
    • Be prepared to highlight how your qualifications relate to the position and the organization throughout the interview.
  • Try to anticipate the questions you might be asked, practice your answers and prepare your own questions before your interview.
  • Conduct a video mock interview with a SECO career coach, who can help you improve your answers and delivery to ace the interview. 
  • Confirm the details of the interview in advance, such as who will be on the call, time, duration and date. Be sure you know who will initiate the phone call.
  • Choose a quiet place for your interview to avoid background noise distractions. Have supplies on hand, such as paper, pen and any notes or questions.
  • Never answer incoming calls during an interview.
  • Have all the relevant information you might need for the interview printed out and in front of you, so you can easily access the information needed to answer any questions. These items may include the following:
    • Latest version of your resume
    • Information about any certifications or licenses you hold
    • Contact information for any professional references

During the interview

  • Do not eat or chew gum.
  • Have a glass of water nearby in case your throat gets dry.
  • Pay attention to your body language. Even though the interviewer can't see you, body language can be conveyed through tone of voice. Consider having a mirror in front of you to gauge facial expressions.
  • Avoid multitasking while you are on the call and focus completely on the interview. Multitasking can lead to awkward lags in the conversation or cause you to miss something important.
  • Speak slowly and pronounce words clearly.
  • Take notes you can refer to later, such as the responsibilities of the position or salary range.
  • Write down names and titles of those on the call to reference in the thank-you note.

Interview follow-up

  • Send a quick thank-you note to the interviewer via email.
  • Ask about the next steps in the hiring process.

If you prepare in advance and observe proper etiquette, your phone interview may open the door to a new position. For more tips on interviews and your job search, visit the Job Search section of the Employment Readiness lifecycle stage of MySECO. Also, check out this article on Preparing for an Interview.

You can also speak with a SECO career coach by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. For additional guidance, use the Live Chat feature on the MySECO website. 

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