Hand holding resume in front of a laptopAs you apply for jobs, you may be asked for a phone interview. Read our blog for tips on how to handle talking with a potential employer on the phone to impress potential employers and further your job search.

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Can You Hear Me Now? Mastering the Phone Interview

Sep 11, 2017

Hand holding resume in front of a laptopOnce you submit a job application, there are a few steps you may need to go through before a job offer is made, including interviews. During September, the Choose Work blog will focus on tips that may help you ace a phone interview, land an in-person interview and receive a job offer.

You may find that many companies conduct job interviews by phone these days, because this can give them a good idea of how confident you are with your skills. It also helps them determine if you may be a good candidate to talk with further.

All phone interviews are not the same. You may talk with Human Resource personnel for an initial screening to see if you have the right qualifications and are interested in the job. Other phone interviews are with the Hiring Managers so they can decide if they'd like to follow up with an in-person interview.

In some ways, preparing for a phone interview is the same as preparing for an in-person interview. Researching the company, learning about the interviewer, preparing answers for questions you may expect, and making a list of questions you have will help you prepare for both. However, phone interviews may require some additional preparation. Here are a few tips that can help you get ready and be successful during a phone interview.

Getting ready for the interview

  • If possible, use a landline rather than a cell phone. A landline may provide a stronger connection to help you better talk with the interviewer.
  • Turn off call waiting so you're not distracted by the beeping.
  • Speaking of distractions, make sure you're in a private, quiet space with no co-workers, kids, pets or background noise to interrupt your concentration.
  • Keep your resume and the job description close so you can refer to them as necessary.
  • Have a way to take notes or reminders, such as a computer or pen and paper.

During the interview

  • Smile and be enthusiastic. Your tone is all that comes across on the phone, so sound energetic and genuinely interested. When you smile, it projects a positive image as you speak. Some people even put a mirror near the phone to help them remember to smile.
  • Speak slowly and clearly. Give short answers, and wait to see if the interviewer wants more information. Stay on topic.
  • Don't interrupt. Be sure to allow for a brief pause at the end of the interviewer's question to make sure they have finished speaking.
  • Don't smoke, chew gum or eat, during the call.
  • Do have a glass of water handy so you can take a quick sip if your mouth gets dry or there's a catch in your throat.
  • Take notes. It's often hard to remember what you discussed after the fact, so take brief notes during the interview.
  • Ask for the interviewer's email address so that you can send a thank-you note after the call.

Remember — while a phone interview may seem less formal than an in-person one, it's an  opportunity to make a great impression that can lead to your next job and a successful career.

Disclosure and accommodations

Disclosure of your disability is always your choice. You may need to disclose your disability if you need a reasonable accommodation for your interview. But if you do not request an accommodation for the interview, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require you to tell the interviewer about your disability or that you may need a reasonable accommodation to perform a job. Learn more about disclosure on our blog and head to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website for more information about the ADA.

We realize that phone interviews may not be for everyone. Check out Making Interviews Accessible for You for advice about asking for accommodations during the interview process.

About Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket program, visit www.ssa.gov/work. You can also call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

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