How to Handle Phone Etiquette in a Job Interview or Video Conference

Many jobs have been lost during the phone interview because of bad phone etiquette.  Often this is because the candidate perceives the phone interview to be nothing more than an ‘informal’ interview and thus does not take it seriously enough.  Anytime you are going to be speaking to a prospective employer, you must always prepare.  However, lack of proper preparation is many times caused by a misunderstanding regarding the goal of the phone interview.  The basic goal of a phone interview is to set up a face-to-face interview.


Therefore, phone interviews should be focused and to the point, generally lasting between 20 and 30 minutes.  Here are some things to think about when preparing for a phone interview:

  • This may sound unconventional, but a good way to get ready for a phone interview is to pull out one of your favorite upbeat CD’s and do some singing. This warms up your voice and it also gets your blood moving.
  • Next, prepare your environment by removing or turning off anything that could make noise while you are interviewing such as the TV, stereo, radio, or your cell phone.  Turn off call waiting on your conventional phone, and put the dog out.
  • If you are facing a video chat for the first time, find a friend to practice with beforehand.  Call them a few times and hang up, then have your friend call you so that you can get comfortable with the process.  The biggest reason to practice with a friend is to make sure your voice does not sound like Mickey Mouse or Darth Vader. Neither is good. If audio distortion does occur and you can’t fix it, let the interviewer know up front about the technical problem. They may not care or they may stop the video chat and just do a phone interview.
  • For a video chat, make sure your suit is clean, your shirt is pressed, and your tie is straight.  Especially make sure your teeth are brushed and that you have no leftover spinach from lunch.
  • Also for video interviews, check to see what is in the background of your shot.  If necessary, change up the room to make it more presentable and professional. The interviewer will likely look around to see what they can learn about you just like you do when you enter their office.
  • Don’t smoke, chew gum, or eat while interviewing, but do have a small glass of water without ice handy in case your throat gets dry.
  • Spread out all your notes as well as your resume in front of you for easy reference, but do not make loud paper rustling noises during the interview.
  • Compile a list of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as a list of answers to questions that you think may be asked of you.
  • Always be honest, positive, straightforward, pleasant, and friendly.
  • Try to match the speaker’s pace and pitch; but speak naturally and calmly, enunciating clearly.
  • Don’t interrupt the interviewer.
  • At the conclusion of the interview, ask about the next step in the interviewing process, especially if you are looking for a sales position. This will show an eagerness for the position and lets the manager know that you are interested in the opportunity.