The Purpose of a Phone Interview

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter discusses the purpose of a phone interview from the employer’s perspective and from yours.




I’m going to discuss it from both sides.

Your site is easy – – your purpose is to get to the face-to-face interview. In almost every case I’ve ever heard of, no one is hired on the basis of a phone interview. There are some exceptions but they are very rare.

The employer’s perspective is, (1) to confirm that what piqued their interest about your background is actually true and that you have relevant experience. So they may have some questions about whether your experiences relevant; there may be some things causing them some concern.

They may also be looking for confirmation. In other words, they may see your background as a great fit and they’re trying to confirm that.

In fact, what they can confirm is a couple of pieces of objective information that may come through subjective questioning. That may sound contradictory, but the questions that they use to evaluate someone involve some degree of subjectivity.

The other thing that they can evaluate is your energy level. Do you have passion, excitement, zeal for what you do? How does that come across in your voice? Do you speak in a slow, methodical, monotone manner that puts people to sleep? Do you demonstrate a degree of enthusiasm and excitement?

Then on your side of it, how do you demonstrate that you have some passion for what you do? How do you demonstrate that they don’t have to worry about you and that you do fit the role?

If the call is coming out of the blue from a corporation, not a third-party recruiter, I want to encourage you to say something like, “I’d like to speak with you. Can we schedule a time later in the day to talk?”

Then you can reference your notes about the job and background check the individual on LinkedIn, and before you jump off, say something like, “before we jump off, would you tell me a little bit about the position please?”

For the call that is actually scheduled, you start the conversation (remember, scheduling can come from a third-party recruiter), “I spoke in the Jeff Altman about the position and he gave me a brief summary, but I want to get your take on the job. Would you tell me about the position and as you see it and what I can do to help?”

That way they’re going to start off by talking about the position as it currently is (remember, jobs often change from the time that the job description was developed and no one ever goes back to modify them. This helps you avoid using obsolete information on your interview).

As a result, when they continue by asking you, “tell me about yourself,” you have the best information possible at the beginning of the conversation so that you can talk about what you’ve done that matters to them and not just simply talk about what you’ve done. You can tailor your answers to make those points.

Remember: the purpose of a phone interview is either to screen you in or screen you out.

They don’t want to waste time with someone who isn’t a fit. They want to confirm that you have the right background or get answers to a few basic questions that gave them hesitancy.


Do you think employers are trying to help you? You already know you can’t trust recruiters—they tell as they think you need to know to take the job they after representing so they collect their payday. Will

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter has been a career coach and recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. is there to change that with great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.

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