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Telephone Interviews are as Easy as 1-2-3!

Marcia Robinson -- The telephone interview or phone screening has become one tool for smart businesses to keep recruiting and hiring costs down in a tight economy. Without meeting face to face, job seekers should know there are three factors that will enhance or destroy their candidacy during these phone interactions.

In a tight economy, smart organizations seize every opportunity to lower costs in the recruiting and hiring process. The telephone interview or phone screening is one great tool that employers are using to keep recruiting and hiring costs down.

Rapidly advancing telecommunication technology is enabling employers to easily add the telephone interview to their processes. For example, telephone interviews can now easily be conducted with one jobseeker speaking with one interviewer or with multiple interviewers on an interview panel.

Add to that, the fact that using free conference call services or low-cost on-line meeting Web technology, the interview panel now has the option to also be completely distributed. In other words, a job seeker can converse with four or five interviewers who are all in different offices, different departments, or even different branch locations. The bottom line is that the telephone interview is here to stay and can be a very effective tool to screen job seekers. The better prepared the job seeker for that kind of remote access, the more successful the job search will be.

What does that mean for the job seeker?

It means that candidates must get comfortable with the telephone interview and know how to impress the recruiter through this medium. With the telephone interview, where neither interviewer nor job seeker can see each other, both users must be aware of tone, clarity, and energy. Mastering the telephone interview is as easy as 1-2-3 if job seekers understand this.

Although all three are important, the following ranking might help job seekers keep them top-of-mind. In fact, it might be a good idea to jot them down along with your list of questions for the interviewer.


Candidates should be very aware of how the interviewers will perceive their energy level via the telephone. It is important to stay high energy from beginning to end of the telephone interview.


Since neither side can read the other's body language over the phone, which we all know is super important in the interview process, tone is really important. For example, job seekers might want to limit sarcasm or not necessarily make jokes in the interview. Since you cannot "read" the interviewer use caution here and be very aware of how a harmless statement can come across via the telephone.


Job seekers must listen carefully to the question. Too often an interview candidate can go off on a tangent answering the wrong question. If the interview were face to face a quick gesture could abort the wrong answer.

Interviews are uncomfortable enough and the telephone interview adds another layer of complexity. Job seekers should know that these three factors will enhance or destroy their candidacy.

Marcia Robinson writes, trains and coaches on career, workplace and employment issues for and BullsEye Blogs. Robinson has a BS in Human Resource Management, a Masters in Business Administration, nine years of professional experience in career center operations and 14 years of leadership experience in the Higher Education, Hospitality and Technology industries.

© 2010 Marcia Robinson

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