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How to Impress on a Phone Interview

Wiktor Podobiński
June 2022

A phone interview is the first step of almost any recruitment process. There are different approaches to this crucial part - the bottom line is checking all of the formalities (that is to say, the Candidate’s salary expectations, availability, etc.) but it often can also include language skills, culture match and a creativity check. Let’s break it down so you can shine during the interview!

First of all, you have to realize the recruiter's role - they are definitely not your enemy, so try to approach things with positivity and curiosity. You want to portray yourself in the best possible manner while the recruiter is looking for the optimum candidate to fill the position. A responsible recruiter won't lie to you - the best ones know that if they lie to a candidate about the role, responsibilities, company, or a manager, a new hire will leave the new job very early and the process will start over. In summary - you should be on the lookout for frauds, but don’t assume every recruiter is one.

Make sure you know how much time has been booked for your call. Not only does it help you minimize chances of having to finish too early, it also will help you answer questions more adequately (if it’s e.g., one hour you can go more in depth, while if it’s only 10-15 minutes you should try to answer quickly and to the point).

It’s never the best look to be rescheduling a phone call that you already agreed on - but it’s better than having it in unfavorable circumstances. Most of the time you’ll interview with other companies while still working in your current position - it’s understandable to have an unexpected meeting or any sort of situation! And if you did not make it in time, it’s best to reach out first with an explanation. 

To make a good impression you have to be assertive in every aspect from the first to the last second of a call. Know your value, but don’t be overconfident. This also applies to salary expectations. It’s not a secret that getting the very first professional experience is usually the hardest - it doesn’t mean that you should say you’re willing to work for the lowest amount possible or even not getting paid at all. Same goes for the other side of the spectrum - to one day be on the top you have to start somewhere. 

While you should be honest it’s often best to omit things like over-complaining about your previous colleagues or the company itself - there are always two sides of the coin and the recruiter might not be able to check the other version of your story.

If you’re given a chance to shine during the interview by all means go for it - when asked about your hard and soft skills tell as much as you can about yourself, it also won’t hurt to give a small example or two. 

Nowadays most positions will require you to be able to communicate freely in English. It’s quite a broad topic, but the most important thing to remember when you’re asked to switch to English is to not speak any other language until this part of the interview is over. If you get lost or forget a word try to find another way to express yourself. This part is all about checking your ability to speak a foreign language and definitely not about getting crucial information. The worst thing you can do is throw in words in your non-English language to finish your thought or refuse to speak in English at all - if you’re here already you might as well give it a try!

At the end of it all, a first phone interview is just two people having a conversation. The greatest advice you can get is just to be the best version of yourself and treat the other person the way you’d like to be treated. 

Good luck with your interviews!