Save to Pocket
Job search

4 ways to help you impress a recruiter during a phone interview — even though they can’t see you

A phone interview is officially on the books for you. But just because the recruiter won’t be able to see you doesn’t mean you can totally let your guard down — in fact, you’ll need to work even harder to impress them.

Here are things you might not necessarily need to do for an in-person interview, but can be a big help when doing one over the phone.

Write it out — but don’t read verbatim

This is a good way to practice for the interview.

Alison Green, author of the Ask a Manager blog, writes in U.S. News & World Report that you should “think about the questions that you’re likely to be asked, and write out your answers to each of them.”

“At a minimum, cover these basics: Why are you thinking about leaving your current job? What interests you about this opening? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What experience do you have doing the major responsibilities of the job?” Green continues. “You especially want to prepare for questions that you find tricky, like, for instance, talking about a firing or talking about weaknesses. Write out your answers to these questions not because you’ll read them word-for-word, but because doing so will help prep you for the call.”

Flash a wide grin

Larry Kim, former founder and CTO of Wordstream and current MobileMonkey CEO, writes in Inc. that you should “smile like you’re in Disneyland.”

“Your interviewer (or, as I like to think of her, quizmaster) will pick up on your tone. In fact, she will be paying even more attention to it, since she doesn’t get to see your lovely face,” he writes. “People can hear your smile, which makes them smile and think positive thoughts about you on the other end of the line. So go ahead, grin big!”

Plug in some headphones

Aja Frost, a freelance writer and editor of the HubSpot sales blog, writes in The Muse about why you should use these:

“I used to do phone interviews the ‘old-fashioned’ way: using one hand to hold the phone up to my ear. That made it harder to grab my materials, so I switched to speaker-phone. Big mistake. The quality wasn’t great, and the interviewer kept saying, “What? What?” I ended up shouting phrases like, ‘I’M AN EXCELLENT PRIORITIZER!’ and ‘I PRIDE MYSELF ON ALWAYS MEETING OR EXCEEDING MY DEADLINES!’ The solution? Microphone-enabled headphones. They’ll leave your hands free to access your notes and make raising your voice unnecessary.”

Keep some water within reach

Alison Doyle, an author, career expert, and founder and CEO of, writes in The Balance about why this is a smart move during a phone interview.

Do keep a glass of water handy. There isn’t much worse than having a tickle in your throat or a cough starting when you need to talk on the phone,”she writes. “Have a glass of water ready so you can take a quick sip if your mouth gets dry or there’s a catch in your throat.”

Little things like a parched throat can really trip you up on the phone, so you should make sure to set yourself up ahead of time.

More from Ladders