Current Career Opportunities

The Telephone Interview

The Telephone Interview:
Your First Contact

There is somewhat of a tendency for candidates to treat the initial telephone interview with a prospective employer as just a necessary evil to get one's foot in the door. Don't you make that mistake!

Here are some important tips and reminders about the all-important, initial telephone interview:


  • A telephone interview is an exchange of information to determine mutual interest. The only goal is to get a face-to-face interview.
  • Have your most current resume, paper, pen, your questions, and a glass of water handy (to avoid "dry throat," which often occurs when one is under stress).
  • Take the call in a quiet area of the house, no kids, dishwasher, or other distractions.
  • Stand and walk around as you talk. This helps you convey energy and enthusiasm. Let your personality show.  People hire people, not what's written on a piece of paper, i.e., your resume.
  • Review employer's "hot buttons." Sell what you know they need.
  • Do not bring up compensation, benefits or vacation. This is only appropriate at the end of a face-to-face meeting, when they know you and you know everything about the job and company.  If pressed, respond with, "I am interested in finding out more about this opportunity, in order to see if there is a match here for both of us.  If so, I trust that you will make a fair offer."
  • Never speak negatively about current or past employers.
  • Write down questions you want to ask the employer but tell your HTW account executive what they are first. Only ask questions you must have answers to before meeting face-to-face.
  • Don't volunteer information, but be prepared to answer questions.
  • Avoid passive phraseology, e.g., "If I were charged with this responsibility. . . ." Instead, use active phraseology, e.g., "Here is the way I would handle that situation." 
  • Sell your benefits. Companies only hire people who will provide value to them. Let them know how you will benefit them and bring value to the company, in terms of increased revenues, gain of market share, increased profits, etc.
  • Do not try to evade an answer. If you don't know the answer to one (or more) of their questions, simply tell them you don"t know but will get the answer(s) and call them back.
  • If things sound good to you, say so. Don't "play poker." Employers want people who are enthusiastic and want to work for them. Since the interviewer can actually see you, make sure you vocalize your reaction/feelings.
  • If something doesn't sound good to you, take note of it and let your HTW account executive know. Under no circumstances should you confront the interviewer.
  • Definitely ask the interviewer to tell you where you stand at the end of the interview, and ask what exactly are the next steps are in the process.
  • Call your HTW account executive immediately after the phone call is over. He/she has to know how you feel and if there are any questions/issues that still need to be cleared up/answered before the account executive calls the interviewer.
  • Email or fax a "Thank You" letter to the interviewer the same day as the telephone interview. Stress your continued interest in the position, restate your strong qualifications, and then "ask for the order," i.e., ask for the position!