Thought Leadership

Executive Search

“It’s just a phone interview. Why should I prepare?!”


by Jody Karavanic
Senior Practice Leader at Charles Aris Inc.

Every organization has a different interview process, but the format we typically see is: phone interview; first in-person interview; and final interview. While most would agree that each is equally important, we find that candidates are less likely to prepare for phone interviews than they are for in-person interviews in the later rounds.

This flies in the face of logic. Without an excellent performance in a phone interview, a candidate is unlikely to advance to subsequent rounds.

With that in mind, here are five best practices for nailing the phone interview:

  • Do your homework: Look up the interviewer on LinkedIn and research the organization. Read its 10-K report and the latest news about it, and familiarize yourself with its products and services.
  • Know the interview: If possible, understand the format and what will be covered. Will the interviewer primarily ask questions based on your résumé and experience? Or will the discussion revolve around behavioral questions? Perhaps it’s a case interview. Regardless, if you’re partnered with a recruiter, you should have little difficulty learning about the nature of the interview.
  • Bring the energy: Be aware that you are being judged not only on what you say, but also the way in which you say it. In a phone interview where you don’t have the benefit of nonverbal communication (a quick smile or head nod, for example), it’s important to make sure your energy comes across in the tone of your voice.
  • Know your story: Spend time thinking about your background and how your experience is relevant to the role you’re exploring. Be prepared to share project examples with quantifiable results. Showing the impact and value you’ve created will help demonstrate your ability to deliver results for this prospective employer.
  • Ask excellent questions: You’re judged as much by the questions you ask as the questions you answer. Think through the specifics of this particular industry, organization and position, ultimately preparing thoughtful questions for your interviewer.

Last but not least: RELAX.

Remember: The goal of your initial interview is not to get the job but to get to the next round!


"Thanks, Charles Aris, appreciate your dedication in finding such great talent for us to select from."

— The VP of Strategic Product Management for a Fortune 30 retailer, responding to an email informing him that Charles Aris Inc.'s candidate had just accepted the retailer's job offer.