Phone Interviews Are Tough – Be Prepared

Many of our clients utilize the phone interview at some point during their hiring process.  It is often the initial contact a candidate will have with the prospective employer.   Why are phone interviews so difficult?  There are many reasons!

First off, you can’t read the interviewer’s body language.  You can’t see how the interviewer is reacting to your answers.  The second difficulty may arise from the person conducting the interview.  Is this person a lawyer, a human resources professional or an administrator that conducts initial phone interviews? Does he/she have an understanding of your practice and how your skills are transferable to this position?  Be prepared to provide a detailed description of what you do.  The third problem is the awkward silences.  The interviewer is likely taking notes, reading your resume, and formulating follow-up questions based on your answers to previous questions.

To put your best foot forward, you should prepare for this phone call as if it were an in-person interview.  That means you must do your research.  Try to learn as much as possible about the interviewer and the position.  Get online and see what you can find.  Then, review your resume carefully.  Once you are on the call, make sure you have your resume in front of you because the interviewer likely will be asking questions based directly on the information in your resume.  Finally, don’t over talk!  There are going to be pauses and silences in this conversation – don’t try to fill those voids with your voice.   You may say something you don’t mean or make the interviewer feel rushed.  Take your time and think about your answers before you respond.

The phone interview is often a screening tool and most employers realize its limitations.  That being said, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  Be prepared, be succinct and be yourself!


Contact Denise Schwartz or Eynav Epstein at EpsteinSchwartz Legal Search to learn more, to discuss the legal market or to hear about current opportunities.

EpsteinSchwartz Legal Search is a Chicago-based boutique legal recruiting firm. EpsteinSchwartz does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex, sexual orientation or any other protected characteristic. All inquiries will be kept strictly confidential.