Phone interviews have become a key part of the interview process. With online job postings often receiving 200 or more applicants, hiring managers and recruiters use phone interviews to effectively prescreen candidates before bringing them in for in-person interviews. During a phone interview, hiring managers are primarily assessing your core skills and cultural fit with the company. So how can you ace your phone interview? Here are five tips:

1. Do your homework: Research and make a cheat sheet. Thoroughly research the company, the role and the interviewer just as you would for an in-person interview. You should be familiar with the company’s mission, customer segments, key competitors, and products and services. Look for things that connect with your experience and professional interests, and emphasize those.

“Prepare questions that show you’ve taken the time to learn about my company and are interested in it,” said interviewing expert Michael Neece in his article, “Interview Tips — What hiring managers really want from you.” “Don’t just tell me your strengths; prepare stories that illustrate where you’ve used those strengths successfully in past work experiences.”

Then make a cheat sheet. The best thing about a phone interview is you can use notes rather than relying on your memory. Create bullet-pointed notes summarizing the company, your accomplishments and other key points that you want to emphasize, and follow- up questions.

2. Simulate a professional interview environment. My best advice here is to treat this interview just as you would an in-person interview. Find a quiet location with good cellphone reception. Limiting background noise and distractions will help you focus and make it easier for the person who is interviewing you to hear you. Simulate as professional an environment as possible. A home office or desk is ideal, but sitting at the kitchen table will work just as well. Consider dressing professionally, because your communication style will be more polished as your brain picks up these subtle environmental cues. Lastly, just as you would arrive to an in-person interview early, be prepared for a phone interview early.

3. Concise communication: Listen first and then talk. Typically the interviewer will begin the call by talking about his or her expectations, what it takes to be successful, etc. Listen actively and take lots of notes. This will be great information to use for questions at the end of the call to show the interviewer your perception and observational skills. Interviewers tend to have a shorter attention span during phone conversations than in person. Keep your answers concise and to the point. Remember to smile and to speak clearly with enthusiasm. The interviewer can’t see your smile, so you have to project your enthusiasm and professionalism through your voice. Another thing that helps here is to stand. This will make you sound more confident.

4. Be prepared for a Q&A. At the end of the phone interview, the interviewer will typically ask if you have any questions. I can’t emphasize this enough: Always ask questions! This shows the interviewer you’re interested and gives you a great opportunity to show your observational skills by asking follow-up questions from the notes you took earlier in the conversation. Ask questions that show your interest in the company. This will lead to follow-up conversation and will be great information to have going into your subsequent interviews. If the interviewer doesn’t ask if you have any questions, take the initiative and ask if you can ask a few questions.

5. Lastly, always end the call by asking about next steps. In the Forbes article, “How to ace a phone interview,” Deborah Jacobs said, “If you really want the job, end the call on a positive note. Say something to the effect of ‘Thanks for the call. I like what I heard and I am confident I could fill this role. I am very interested in this job and would be pleased to meet with you in person. What is the next step?’”

Follow up with a “thank you” note or email later in the day confirming your interest, ability to do the job and desire to take the next step in the interview process.

For more information about BIC Recruiting and to download an interview preparation worksheet, visit, call (281) 538-9996 or email