Tips for Telephone Interviews

Many of our accent and communication clients have asked for help preparing for telephone screening interviews. Here are some tips for making them as successful as possible: (1) Before the Interview

  • Focus on accountability: confirm the details of the call (date, time, who is initiating the call, etc.)
  • Research the company
  • Generate a short list of relevant questions

(2) During the Interview

  • Make sure you are calling from a quiet, private, environment
  • A landline phone may be preferable if you don't have excellent cell phone reception
  • Do not eat, drink, chew gum, etc.
  • Keep water nearby
  • Have paper and pen ready
  • Have your resume and/or short list of qualifications/skills that match the job description criteria
  • Answer the phone by identifying yourself: "Hello. This is ____________ speaking."
  • Smile when you are speaking. This will make your voice sound more energetic and lively
  • Speak slowly, clearly and loudly enough
  • Avoid saying "um" when thinking or translating your thoughts
  • Use your interviewer's title (Mr., Ms.) unless asked to use a first name
  • Don't interrupt when the interviewer is speaking; jot down questions if necessary
  • Provide short, succinct answers; brief pauses to organize thoughts are acceptable
  • At the end, ask when you can expect to hear from the company regarding the next step
  • Thank the interviewer

(3) After the Interview

  • Send a handwritten thank you note in a timely manner
  • Write down some of the interview questions and your answers, as well as any questions you would like to ask at the face-to-face interview

Lynda Katz Wilner and Marjorie Feinstein-Whittaker formed ESL RULES, LLC in 2006. Through this joint business venture they provide workshops and produce and distribute their unique training materials for accent modification and communication training. Their line of products address critical and frequently confused English grammatical, semantic, and syntactic rules of speech and pronunciation for nonnative English speakers in the financial/business, scientific/medical, information technology, hospitality, and religious/spiritual settings. 

For more on the ESL RULES line of products, please visit