Phone interviews are really phone screens.  They are screening candidates, narrowing down a list that’s too long, figuring out who to invite in for a face-to-face interview. So really, in a phone interview, they’re looking for reasons to mark you off the list—to screen you out.  Your job in phone interview is to keep them from eliminating you, so you can get to the face-to-face interview.  How can you keep them from screening you out?  The answer might surprise you.

The first thing you can do, of course, is to make no mistakes.  Follow good phone interview practices like making sure you’ve got a quiet room with no distractions.  Prepare for the interview with some research on the company.  Practice answering typical phone interview questions so you sound smooth, calm, and confident. Come up with a list of questions to ask of your own.  Communicate your enthusiasm for the job.   Be positive all the way through your conversation.   Those are all basic things you should do to have a really good telephone interview.

But the one thing that can really seal the deal for you and keep you from getting screened out is simply asking for the next step, the face-to-face interview. 

Most job seekers would never dream of asking for this next step.  Instead, they keep answering questions until the interviewer says something like:  “Well, it was great talking to you.  We’ve got a few more people to talk to.  I’ll be in touch.”  Know what that tells you?  Nothing.  You hang up not knowing if they liked you, if they’re calling you back, if you’re moving forward, nothing.  And then you’re waiting, and waiting, and waiting.  If the call doesn’t come, that’s when you find out they’ve screened you out.  And by then, it’s too late to do anything about it. The time to act is during the interview. 
What do you say?  You’ve got several options. 

You can say, “Based on what we’ve talked about, this sounds like a great fit for me and I am very interested in meeting with you to discuss it further.  When can we schedule it?”   

You can say, “I’ve really enjoyed talking to you.  From what we’ve discussed so far, it sounds like a good fit to me.  Do you agree?” 

You can say, “Have I given you enough information so that you feel comfortable moving me forward in this process?” 

You can say any number of things that make it clear that you want to move forward and ask if they agree with you.  If they have any doubts about you, it should become clear to you right about then and you can ask about them. 

If they’re thinking of crossing you off the list, you need to find out BEFORE they hang up.  That’s your chance to change their mind.  That happens much more often than you think it does.  Sometimes, whatever reason they have for screening you out is from a misunderstanding, an assumption they’ve made, or even just because you forgot to tell them something they wanted to hear but didn’t.  If you can correct whatever it is, you’ve just saved your face-to-face interview.

Author's Bio: 

Peggy McKee is a career coach and the CEO of Career Confidential, a website dedicated to helping job seekers get the jobs you want fast. Learn more on the Career Confidential website => 

Find more phone interview tips in our blog series, Phone Interviews: The 37 Most Essential and Extraordinary Tips That Will Get You To the Face-to-Face =>