Phone Interview Do's and Don'ts

Phone Interview Do's and Don'ts

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phone interviewIf you're applying to an internship in China, your potential employer will almost certainly request an interview by phone.  Phone interviews, no doubt, can be less stressful and intimidating than in-person interviews, but they also pose a host of difficulties that you would never expect.  Here, we have compiled our best advice on what to do and what not to do under the unique circumstances of a phone interview.    



  • Have your resume visible in front of you. This is one of the biggest advantages of phone interviews over in-person interviews - you can have use your resume for quick reference and to provide talking points. Make sure that you don't keep looking down at it though- use it as a reference rather than a script.
  • Browse the internet, text, or use any other distractions. Take your phone interview as seriously as you would an in-person interview. It's very clear to the interviewer when you're distracted or unfocused, and it will look like you are unprepared and do not care about the job.
  • Take brief notes on what your employer says so that your answers remain relevant, as well as questions that spring to mind that you can ask at the end of the interview. Also, be prepared with 2-3 questions to ask your potential employer, so you're not stumped when they ask if you have any questions for them.
  • Recite from pre-prepared phrases or questions. This is possibly the worst thing you can do during a phone interview. It may seem like an easy way out if you're nervous, but it gives a terrible impression. It's best to be honest and admit if you're unsure of how to answer a question.
  • Speak as much and as well as you can in response to each question. In an in-person interview, non-verbal cues such as body language, manners, and dress are used to assess you. But during a phone interview, the interviewer can only use your words. Make sure you speak slowly and articulately, and give as much detail as each question requires. Be sure to stick to the question rather than going off topic.
  • Interrupt the interviewer in order to get your point across. Don't think of your phone interview as a race against the clock. Be patient, and then refer to things they have mentioned earlier if what you wanted to say is no longer relevant. Potential employers will not consider you interrupting them as you taking the initiative; they'll just think you're rude.
  • Smile as you talk. You'd be surprised how even though you can't be seen, a smile changes the tone of your voice to sound more positive, and will make you feel more confident too.
  • Fidget. With regards to your composure, sometimes it helps to imagine that the interviewer is, in fact, sitting right in front of you. Fidgeting and multi-tasking compromise your performance.
  • Expect a shorter interview than an in-person interview. There is only so much information that can be extracted from you without meeting you in person, so don't panic if your call only lasts a short time. This is almost always the case, as with telephone interviews there are often more candidates.
  • Schedule your interview at a time when you're rushed, or preoccupied. You will want to feel comfortable and not have lingering thoughts of time constraints at the back of your mind. So, don't plan your phone interview during your lunch break!
  • Follow-up with a thank you email. This goes without saying; apply all the same formalities to your phone interview that you would to any other interview. Thank the interviewer for taking the time to talk with you, and confirm your interest in the position for which you are applying.
  • Wait as long as you normally would. It's commonplace to send your thank you email 1-2 days after an in-person interview, but with a phone interview, send it later that day! Because phone interviews are more impersonal, make sure your interviewer gets the best possible impression of you.


That's it! As with all interviews, take this advice with a grain of salt and use your own common sense.

The most important thing to take away from all of this advice would be this: phone interviews are, ultimately, a balancing act. Make the most of the fact that you can't be seen, but also compensate for the disadvantages that it presents. Best of luck!


Sasha Small
Marketing Assistant

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