Workin’ Wednesday (Part 2): The Phone Interview

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(To see Part 1, click here.)

So you’re sitting down in a nice, quiet room. You have your cover letter in front of you and you’re ready for the call. And suddenly, you realize you have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into. What is this interview going to be like? How long will it last? Would if I mess up? Will they know if I embellish the truth just a little? All of these questions start flying through your head, and now your nerves have kicked in. What do you do?

You read the rest of this blog post. That’s what you do.

Ha, but seriously. In this post, you are going to learn what a successful phone interview looks like and how to maximize your chances of getting a second interview. Welcome to Part 2: The Phone Interview.


First things first, clear your throat and calm yourself. Make sure you sound energetic and ready to work! (A trick for this is if you smile every time you speak.) Remember that they chose YOU for this interview, so act like you deserve the job. *gives a thumbs up*

Picture of a phone interview
Act as if you’re a salesperson. Be courteous, be patient and be yourself. Originally posted on ucareerservices.wordpress.com.

Important things to remember while you’re on this phone interview:

Only answer the questions that are asked of you.
This is not a Ms. America pageant speech. Do not drag on and on with every question. That is the quickest way for your interviewer to lose interest. Let the interviewer guide the conversation. You’re only there to follow.

Not to mention, providing a bunch of unnecessary information can look similar to babbling. And you may end up sharing information that you really didn’t want to share. So think about the question first before you answer it. Once you’ve answered it, keep your mouth shut.

Don’t freak out if you say “umm.”
For some reason, speech class has got everyone worried about the filler words they shouldn’t say. This is an interview, not a presentation. Interviews are meant to be conversational, so it’s OK if you use words like “umm” and “uh.” Of course, you don’t want to overuse these words, but these are colloquial terms. So don’t worry if you use them throughout your interview.

*Fun fact: Your interviewer may use “umm” and “uh” more often than you do. Pay attention.

Remember to thank the interviewer for his or her time.
You’d be surprised. Showing gratitude can go a long way. Always thank interviewers for using their time to interview you. (This goes for interviews over the phone AND in person.) Acknowledging that your interviewer did not HAVE to interview you on that day at that specific time shows consideration. It lets the interviewer know that you value his or her time, and you are not going to waste it.


To the fun part! Now that you’ve talked with the interviewer and you have an idea of what this company is looking for, it’s time. And what time is it, do you ask? It is time…to optimize your resume. Optimize, optimize, optimize!

Optimizing your resume.
I mean, optimize until your fingers hurt. (No, but seriously.) During the phone interview, you should take mental notes of what it is the interviewer asked you about and what you forgot to mention on your resume. Once you’ve gathered those notes, take that information and strategically place it throughout your resume.

If your interviewer asked how much experience you have with Microsoft Excel and you forgot to mention Microsoft Office on your resume, put it on there now! If your interviewer alluded to your volunteer experience back in college, add it on your resume. Use your interviewer’s questions/remarks as cues for your new and improved resume. (See short anecdote below for a better example.)

When interviewing for a recent position, I was asked about my experience in managing volunteers for company events. While I certainly had the experience, I never considered it important enough to put on my resume. But I sure did after that phone interview! And if you see my resume now, I have a distinct line that reads “supervising volunteers during shows.” Bam.

Moral of the story is: keep your resume interesting. Any small way that you can help make your resume stand out, just do it (like Nike). Especially if you just finished a promising interview with a potential employer. By the time you go in for your next interview, you’ll be better prepared. And you can bet that your second interviewer will be looking for everything you didn’t have on your resume the first time. Just watch.


I hope that Part 2 has left you with something to think about. Again, I apologize for such a long delay. Being sick is never fun. And yes, you can expect Workin’ Wednesday: Part 3 soon.

Best wishes as you continue on your interviewing journey!

Tammie 🙂

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