The Most Effective Way To Conduct Interviews On The Phone

Conducting an interview on the phone can be a very effective way to learn more about a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. It also allows you to get a sense of their personality. 

Because candidates tend to be more formal when you’re face-to-face with them, it’s often easier for them to relax and show their true self over a phone call. This article will give you some tips on how to conduct interviews effectively via telephone!

How to Conduct a Phone Interview Best Practices
1. Prepare a list of targeted and relevant questions.
2. Establish a comfortable and focused interview setting.
3. Actively listen to candidates’ responses.
4. Ask follow-up questions to delve deeper.
5. Assess communication skills and enthusiasm.
6. Tailor your approach based on the role and industry.
7. Make notes to aid in later evaluation.
8. Provide candidates with an opportunity to ask questions.
9. Maintain professionalism throughout the call.
10. Use the insights to make informed hiring decisions.

1. Make An Agenda

Make sure you have all your questions planned out before the interview so that you can make sure to cover everything with your candidate. Your agenda should list all the topics that you want to cover and what types of questions each topic will require. 

For instance, if one topic is about a specific project, then in addition to asking about the project itself, it would be helpful for candidates to tell you how they handled any mistakes or challenges in executing it successfully. 

This way, when someone isn’t able to answer all your questions fully during an interview, they still have an overall idea of what is expected of them (and if they do happen not meet expectations).

When seeking insights to shape your marketing strategies, asking the right questions becomes crucial. Learn how to frame impactful questions in our article on How to Ask Questions That Will Help You Market and gather valuable customer information.

2. Let The Person Speak

Let the person speak. This one is important and can seem like a no-brainer, but it’s crucial to remember that your job is not to interrupt the interviewee or finish their sentences for them. 

You should let them speak fully, get all of their thoughts out there so that you can write down everything they say in your notes and later bring up anything you want more information on (more on this below). 

If they are not saying something directly related to the topic at hand, don’t force it out of them that will just make things awkward and weird for both parties involved in the interaction.

3. Create Trust

The next thing you want to do is create a relaxed atmosphere. To do this, you’ll need to make the candidate feel comfortable by asking them non-threatening questions about their personal life and hobbies. 

Ask about their family, interests and career goals. You should be interested in what the candidate has done with their time before they applied for your job; 

It tells you more about who they are as individuals than any credentials or degrees they may have obtained through school or college.

Finally, ask questions regarding their education. This can help you decide whether or not the person has actually used what they’ve learned in real-world situations instead of just regurgitating information on paper tests like so many others do (including myself!).

Effective market research doesn’t have to be expensive. Discover practical ways to gather insights without breaking the bank in our guide on How to Conduct Market Research for Free, helping you make informed decisions on a budget.

4. Show That You Care

Show that you care about the candidate. This is called “mirroring,” and it’s a way to establish rapport. If you are interested in what the candidate has to say, then you should show it. 

It can be as simple as nodding at the right moments or asking questions that show your interest in their answers. For example, if they said “I love being outdoors,” ask them why they like being outdoors so much. 

Or if they said “I’m not sure how long I’ll stay here,” ask how long she plans on staying there, for now, it shows that you’re interested in what she has to say!

The key here is to mirror their body language and speech patterns; this will help build trust with them so they feel comfortable talking openly about themselves and their career goals with you over the phone.[1]

5. Ask Open-Ended Questions

For example, a question like “Do you consider yourself to be a hard worker?” is too simple for a phone interview. 

It would only work in an in-person interview because it allows the candidate to respond with something more than yes or no. Instead, ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer:

  • What are some examples of times when you worked hard? How did those experiences make you feel?
  • What’s one thing that makes you stand out as a candidate? In what ways have your previous employers benefited from your efforts?
  • When do you believe it’s important to make sacrifices at work and why?

6. Give The Candidate Your Undivided Attention

To maximize this time, you need to be giving the candidate your undivided attention. 

Don’t let your phone ring during the interview, don’t multitask (that means no texting or emailing), and don’t do anything else during the call. Also, avoid taking notes during an interview it can be distracting for both parties.

To ensure that you’re focused on having a good conversation with each candidate, set aside 15 minutes at a time and put away all distractions such as phones and computers so that your full attention is on them

Before embarking on surveys and data collection, consider these 14 important tips that can enhance the quality and accuracy of your findings. Explore our advice in 14 Tips Before Conducting a Survey to ensure your research efforts are well-prepared.

7. Prepare Yourself Before The Interview

Read any previous interviews with this person, if you can find them online or in your files at work. (If you are an interviewer and don’t have access to this information, talk to your colleagues and ask if they have a copy of these documents from previous interviews.) 

This will help you understand what kind of person you’re dealing with and how they operate in professional settings; 

It also gives you insight into their personality from past interactions with other people who’ve interviewed them as well as feedback from those same people regarding whether or not they would hire that person again.

The next step is for you to do some research on social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook if applicable (for instance: “I’m interviewing someone who works here now but wants me go back home because his wife just died.”). 

Since most employers look at social media profiles before hiring someone new and even during employment periods you need all available information about what kind of person he is before deciding whether or not he should be hired!

8. Ask Follow-Up Questions

You want your follow-up questions to be open-ended, requiring more than a yes or no answer and at least two responses. You also want candidates to provide an example or explain their answer in greater detail than they did previously.

For example, instead of “Do you like working in teams?” ask “How do you feel about working in teams? What are some things that have worked well for you when working on team projects? 

On the flip side, tell me about a situation where you felt like things could have gone better with a team project. Do you think it was because of the way it was set up (i.e., time constraints) or something else entirely?”

Curious about how data is gathered for marketing research projects? Dive into our insights on how we collected the data for a real-world example of data collection methods that can enhance your marketing endeavors.

9. Listen Carefully To Every Word, Intonation, And Nuance In The Voice Of The Candidate

When you are speaking with a candidate over the phone for an interview, take advantage of this simple fact: In-person communication is more effective because it involves more than just verbal cues like tone and pitch (though those are important). 

Remembering to listen for body language is just as critical as listening for inflection when conducting interviews on the phone.

There is a lot that can be learned by paying attention to what someone’s voice sounds like when they speak their energy levels, enthusiasm level, and passion come through loud and clear! 

If a candidate seems bored or apathetic about your job opening then there’s no reason why you should waste any more time interviewing them further unless there’s something else that makes their resume stand out from others’.

10. Always Ask For More Than One Example Per Question

Asking for more than one example is a great way to ensure that you get a thorough and well-thought-out response. It will also allow you to see how the candidate thinks about the topic in question, which can be helpful when it comes time to make an offer.

However, asking for additional examples can also be problematic. If the candidate does not have any other examples at all, then your interview has come to an end because no further information can be gleaned from them! 

In this case, simply ask if they would be able to find another example or two on their own by next week’s interview.

The best way to ask for multiple examples is simply by saying something like “I’d like some more detail on that” or “Can you tell me more?”

11. Silence Is Your Friend

It’s important to let the candidate fill the silence. When you’re on the phone, they can’t see you, so they’ll often be unsure of how long they should pause after a question. 

In fact, one of the most common mistakes interviewers make when conducting interviews over the phone is interrupting too soon after asking a question and cutting off their answer before it’s done. 

The trick here is to let them finish talking before asking another question it will help put them at ease and allow you more time to gauge their confidence level as well as personality traits such as eloquence and level-headedness (or lack thereof).

12. Be On Time For Interview Calls With Candidates

You should make sure that you’re not keeping the person waiting for a call. Be on time for your interview calls with candidates. If you’re not able to do so, then make sure that you let them know ahead of time and apologize.

It’s also important that you don’t leave them hanging without an answer as well. If they send an email with a question or follow up request, then respond as quickly as possible even if it’s just saying “I’m sorry but I won’t be able to get back to you right now.” 

This can be frustrating for candidates who want answers from potential employers or clients, but it’s better than nothing at all!

13. Ask For A Recap Of Their Response Before The Next Question

Now that you’ve heard their response, do you want to ask for more information? 

If your mind is still spinning from all the information they just shared (as it should be), ask them to repeat what they said. “What did I just hear you say?” or “Could you mind repeating that?” are good ways of doing this.

Another good option is to ask for clarification on what they said. You could ask them if there was anything else specific about the question that stood out to them, or if there was something else they wanted us to know but didn’t have time for in their answer. 

You can also explicitly state that it’s okay if there’s not much else left to say; sometimes interviewees will think up new things after having given their first answer!

If we really want some extra insight into what our candidate thinks about a particular question, we can always ask them directly: “What do *you* think?” 

If a candidate seems unsure how best to respond and asks whether there are any follow up questions left before moving on with the rest of their list (or worse yet says nothing at all), then this step may be especially important!

14. Take Notes During A Phone Interview By Using An Online Tool Like Trello Or Google Docs

Here’s a tip: if you’re conducting an interview on the phone, try using an online tool like Trello or Google Docs to take notes. 

This will help you keep track of the conversation, and it’ll also help you remember the candidate’s name when you call him or her back later (or set up another interview). You can also use pen and paper if that’s your jam it’s up to you!

When I was interviewing candidates for my last job, I kept notes in an email draft until a later time when I could transfer them into a shared doc with my boss. 

The tool doesn’t matter; what matters is that whatever method(s) work best for your organization will keep everyone on track during each stage of their application process.

Making informed decisions in marketing relies on solid research. Learn the art of making good decisions using marketing research with our comprehensive guide, How to Make a Good Decision Using Marketing Research, and empower your strategies with reliable insights.

15. Don’t Multitask During A Call With A Candidate

When you’re interviewing over the phone, it’s easy to let your attention wander. You might be checking email or answering the phone or looking at your computer.

But this will take away from the candidate’s experience and give him/her the feeling that he/she isn’t being taken seriously. Make sure to avoid these things while you’re talking with someone:

  • Checking your email
  • Answering calls on another line (even if it’s just picking up)
  • Checking in with others in the office via instant message or text message

16. Help Them Relax And Be Themselves Over A Phone Call By Starting With Some Small Talk About Personal Things

To get the most out of your phone interview, you need to help the candidate feel relaxed and open up. There are a couple of ways that you can achieve this:

Introduce yourself and tell them a little bit about your background. This will help them see that you’re a real person with feelings and interests outside of work. 

It also shows that they aren’t talking to some authority figure in their life, but rather someone who has experienced the same things as them and knows how hard it can be!

Ask about their personal lives (especially if they’re not related to work). 

This will give both parties something more relatable than “what was your favorite class in college?” or “why should we hire you?” It also allows candidates to show off their personality without feeling like it’s forced upon them by someone else’s agenda.


Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to having phone interviews that are just as insightful and effective as face-to-face ones. 

We hope they make the interview process seem less intimidating, especially if you’re not used to being on the phone with candidates. 

You’ll quickly see how much you can learn about a person from the sound of their voice alone, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of this unique situation and have fun with it!

Further Reading

Tips to Conducting an Effective Phone Interview

Learn valuable tips and techniques for conducting successful phone interviews that help you find the right candidates efficiently.

Phone Interview Questions: What to Ask and How to Evaluate

Discover a comprehensive list of phone interview questions and gain insights into evaluating responses to make informed hiring decisions.

Master the Phone Interview: 18 Tips for Success

Dive into practical advice for mastering phone interviews, from asking the right questions to assessing candidate suitability.


How can I prepare for a phone interview?

Preparing for a phone interview involves researching the company, reviewing the job description, and practicing your responses to common interview questions.

What are some effective phone interview questions?

Effective phone interview questions can cover a candidate’s qualifications, experience, problem-solving skills, and their fit with the company culture.

How do I assess a candidate’s communication skills over the phone?

Assess communication skills by listening for clarity, articulation, and the ability to convey ideas effectively without visual cues.

What should I do during a phone interview to create a positive impression?

During a phone interview, maintain a professional tone, actively listen to the candidate, and ask thoughtful follow-up questions to demonstrate your interest.

How do I decide whether a candidate should move on to an in-person interview?

Evaluate a candidate’s qualifications, enthusiasm for the role, and how well they align with the company’s values to determine if an in-person interview is warranted.

Leave a Comment