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Interview Tips 101 - Passing the Phone Interview

Posted on May 31, 2017 by Law Dawgs | Candidate Services
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Odds are you’ve probably had a phone interview at some point in your legal career. If not, we’re sure you’re quite familiar with the concept. Law firms and corporate legal departments use phone interviews to: (1) recruit candidates; (2) narrow candidate pools and identify in-person interview worthy candidates; and/or, (3) interview remote or out-of-town candidates.

No matter the reason used, there is one certainty on this issue. You can’t undervalue the importance of a phone interview. It’s the gate keeper that determines if you actually meet an employer in person. Take it seriously and follow a few tips below to pass your phone interview with flying colors.


Candidates must prepare for in-person interviews if they want success. The same applies for phone interviews and preparations follow the same course of action. Prior to speaking with a potential employer, candidates should:

  • Review the job description along with their resume and cover letter
  • Identify past experiences that match specific job requirements
  • List strengths and weaknesses (in general)
  • Research the company or firm
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask

You can’t just pick up the phone and wing an interview. Candidates must prepare. Be smart and do your homework if want a chance to meet a firm in person.

Pay Attention to Detail

Make sure you know the logistics of your phone interview – in detail. For example, double check the date and time for the interview. Determine if you’re supposed to contact the interviewer of if the firm will contact you. Try your best to find the title of your interviewer. If found, make sure you address your interviewer using this title unless told to do otherwise. Knowing the details of your phone interview will avoid unnecessary pitfalls or snags.

Get Your Phone Out

Phone interviewers only hear a candidate’s voice. They never see a candidate’s appearance, hand gestures, demeanor, etc. So, you’ll want to make certain you communicate clearly and effectively.

Towards this end, get your smartphone out and record yourself. Record yourself answering a few hypothetical questions and then hit replay to see how you sound. Look for any “ums” or unclear expressions and adjust accordingly.

Build and Maintain a Quiet Interview Environment

A quiet and comfortable environment is a necessity when it comes to mastering a phone interview. This will help you focus and relax. Prior to the time of your interview:

  • Clear the room you’ll be in of any distractions
  • If conducting the interview on a landline, turn off your cell phone
  • Turn call-waiting off
  • Ensure no stereos or televisions are playing
  • If there is outside noise (e.g., from construction), try to locate a room that is farthest from the interference.

Keeping it quiet is helpful to you, but it also shows respect for your interviewer. Go after some bonus points and make your environment into a library-like setting.

Take Advantage Of…

Keep in mind that you’re completely out of site during your phone interview. This means you can get away with a few things that you couldn’t otherwise do so during an in-person interview. Take advantage of such things as:

  • Note taking – jot down points you’d like to address or possible questions
  • Resources – have the job description and your cover letter and resume in front of you
  • Lists – e.g., prepare a list of good questions to ask in advance of speaking with a firm and have them by your side during the interview

No, none of this is cheating. It’s simply taking advantage of the situation.

Never take a phone interview lightly. Remember, the key is to perform well so that you can make it into the door of a potential employer. You want to meet someone face-to-face to get a job. Follow are few tips above to help achieve success and know you can always contact us with questions. Good luck!

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