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Phone Interview Skills to Get a Civilian Job

As an active duty service member, there is a good chance you will want to apply for civilian jobs located somewhere other than your current (last) duty station. Because of distance, the phone interview is often the first physical encounter you will have with a prospective employer. It’s very important that you make a good impression over the phone so that you make the final cut and are selected for an in-person interview.

Perfect your phone interview by preparing and practicing. Practice interviewing over the phone with a friend or record your own voice and play it back. How does it sound? Do you have any noticeable bad speech habits like “um” and “like”? Make a list of all your strengths and weaknesses. Prepare some answers to common interview questions including when you can start and how much you want to be paid. Keep a notebook, a pen and a copy of your resume with you at all times if you are using a cell phone. Here are a few tips to help you be successful in a phone interview:

1. When your prospective employer calls make sure you are indoors in a quiet place. You should be prepared to talk to them for as long as half an hour without interruption, and if that isn't possible, ask them if you can call them back — preferably in the next ten minutes. Turn your call waiting off. 

2. Get out your resume and notepad. Take a few minutes to make sure you won’t be disturbed and if possible review the details related to this particular company. When you call them back make sure you have a good connection. 

3. Don’t eat or drink or do anything else while you are talking on the phone with your prospective employer. 

4. Use the person’s title and their last name like “Mr. Clark,” unless they ask you to use their first name. 

5. Don’t interrupt the interviewer no matter how tempted you are. 

6. Smile while you talk because this will make your voice more positive over the phone. 

7. Speak slowly and clearly. 

8. Take a few minutes to think about hard questions before you answer. 

9. Answer the questions concisely with short, direct to the point answers without sounding abrupt. Often, people will ramble much more over the phone because they aren't able to see any non-verbal feedback from the person on the other end of the line. Be very careful to keep your answers brief. 

10. Towards the end of the interview, tell the employer you look forward to meeting them in person. At the very end of the call, thank them for their time. 

11. As soon as your hang up, send them a follow up note thanking them again and expressing your interest in the job and the company.

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