What Is the Purpose of a Phone Interview?

by Mary Jane; Updated September 26, 2017

Some employers use phone interviews to get to know the candidates who have applied to a specific position. As a candidate, the phone interview is your chance to impress the employer, so you can land a second, in-person interview. Prepare your answers based on the expected questions during the phone interview to be considered for the following steps in the interview and application process.

Definition

The phone interview is a simple telephone conversation between you and the recruiter or search committee representative. They are often scheduled calls, so you have a chance to prepare your answers. If the recruiter simply calls out of nowhere to interview you, it is acceptable that you ask for a minute to prepare your notes or review your resume. The length of telephone interviews can last anywhere from a couple of minutes to a full hour, depending on the number of questions the recruiter has for you.

Goal of Phone Interviews

The main goal of the telephone interview is to provide the recruiter with specific information about you. Some of the questions you may be faced with include identifying your career objectives, getting clarification about relocating or working night shifts, answering questions about your previous employers and explaining your specific technical skills provided on your resume. The recruiter wants to know that you are capable of completing the job based on your skills and capabilities.

How to Prepare

The preparation procedures are similar to an in-person interview, except you do not have to worry about your professional appearance. However, be prepared to speak about personal skills and qualifications in comparison to those outlined by the employer in the job posting. Examine the requirements of the employer and pinpoint highlights of your resume that would please the recruiter. Practice your voice, so you should sound clear and crisp rather than mumbling or whispering.

Successful Interview

As a job applicant, you want a successful phone interview so you can proceed to the second in-person interview with the recruiter. Since the recruiter wants to learn about you, you should be prepared to give information that sells you as a candidate. Some employers use the phone interview to eliminate candidates from the pile of applications, so ensure you highlight your top qualifications and skills that will benefit you in the position.

About the Author

Based in Toronto, Mary Jane has been writing for online magazines and databases since 2002. Her articles have appeared on the Simon & Schuster website and she received an editor's choice award in 2009. She holds a Master of Arts in psychology of language use from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.