Telephone interviews in English can seem scary. Employers often use them to filter-out candidates before the face-to-face round. It’s really important to make a good impression, but there’s so much to think about. What will you say? How do you sound? What happens if you can’t think of the right word?

For remote jobs, a telephone or Skype interview might be the only option, so it’s important to get it right first time. Whether it’s arranged in advance, or just a surprise phone call to chat about the role, our advice is to prepare the best you can!

So to guarantee that you get your dream job, here are our tips for telephone interviews in English.


Preparing for the interview

Before the interview, it’s best to do some groundwork.


Questions and answers

You’ll feel much more confident about speaking on the phone if you’ve thought about the answers in advance. The good news is, you can predict the type of questions you’ll get asked. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Remember they might ask you about your weaknesses as well as your strengths. Avoid negative statements and try to put a positive spin on them instead. Always show you’re trying to improve yourself!

And if you want to show that you’re interested in the job. Write some questions of your own. This post has some good examples of what to ask the interviewer.


Mock interview

The best way to get ready for the call is with a mock interview. Go through your questions and practise answering them out loud. You can work with a friend and get them to ask you some quick-fire questions too. If you don’t have a friend who’s available, don’t panic! Try answering in front of the mirror, or use this video from English Like a Native:


Record yourself speaking

Do you know what you sound like speaking English on the telephone? Maybe now is the time to find out. Recording your voice is an excellent way to detect any bad habits you might have. Perhaps you speak too loudly, cough when you’re nervous, or simply say ‘erm’ and ‘uh’ too much.

Listen back and ensure you are speaking naturally and fluently. Now is not the time to worry about grammar mistakes.

But think about your pronunciation and make sure you sound enthusiastic!


Preparing for the call

Here are some extra things to remember before picking up the phone:

  • Confirm the details – the date, time and name before the interview
  • Practise speaking in English an hour before to warm up
  • Find a quiet place with no distractions
  • Have a drink of water ready
  • Have a pen and paper to take notes
  • Count to ten before you make the call


The keys to a successful phone interview in English


The elevator pitch

In the first few minutes of every interview you need to sell yourself. Explain why you want the job and why you’re the best person for the job. The key here is to have your ‘elevator pitch’ ready.

An elevator pitch is how you would introduce yourself in the time it would take to travel in an elevator. Think about it. You meet an executive you really want to work for. You only have 30 seconds to tell them why to hire you, what would you say?

Use this time to say who you are, a little about your previous work experience and why you are suitable for the role.


Match your skills to the job description

Take some time before the interview to properly read the job description. Think of ways you can link what they are looking for with your own skills and experience. Also, research the company by looking at their website, blog and social media accounts. It’s always impressive to know facts about the company that maybe the recruiter doesn’t even know!

During the interview, make sure you have your CV in front of you. Assume that the interviewer will too, and they’ll ask you questions based around what you’ve written.


Speak slowly and calmly

Listen carefully to the questions and pause before you answer. Speak slowly and calmly and don’t ramble. Keep your answers clear and concise.

Remember that the person interviewing you may have had twenty other phone calls that day. You don’t want them to lose interest or switch off!

While it’s important to speak slowly, also demonstrate your energy and enthusiasm. Take an interest in what they are saying and try to appear confident. Smiling is an effective way to sound positive and friendly on the phone, and it will also change your tone.


Don’t forget to follow up

So the interview went well and you think you might be in with a chance. But if you want to make a really good impression, send a thank-you email shortly after. Tell the interviewer it was lovely speaking to them and that you can’t wait to hear what the next steps might be. 

Whatever the outcome, learn from the experience. And remember – practise makes perfect!

For more advice on interviewing in English read our article:  How To Pass Your First Job Interview In English – Tips From Four International Companies.

Glossary for Language Learners


Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

To filter out (pv):: to reduce an unwanted number of candidates.

Groundwork (n): the preliminary work.

Spin (n): a different interpretation.

Mock interview (n) : an emulation of an interview.

Quick-fire (adj): rapid questions.

To hire (v): to employ.

Recruiter (n): a person whose job it is to interview and employ people.

To ramble (v): to talk for a long time.

To be in with a chance (exp): to have the possibility for success.


pv = phrasal verb

n = noun

adj = adjective

v = verb

exp = expression

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