Centred Content

Dear Joanna,

I never liked talking on the phone to friends or family. I prefer the face to face or through texting or apps. As a person on the spectrum and it’s so much easier to communicate this way! However, I have applied for a job in an office, and am scheduled for a pre-screening interview on the phone! I’m so nervous to chat with the interviewer. How do I handle this type of interview?

Signed: Chatter Fear

Centred Content

Dear Chatter,

The job coaches who help our youth with developmental disabilities in our supported employment programs (RSES and SET) agree that the telephone interviews can definitely be intimidating! It’s a quick way for employers to pre-screen and decide whether or not to move to the next steps in the hiring process – the face-to-face. I completely understand your concerns as one of the challenges of phone interviews is the lack of body language which can count for over 55 percent of the total message communicated (www.brainhunter.com).

During the phone interview, recruiters may review your resume (and it may be the first time!) and look for accuracy, gaps and clarification of your experience and skills. Also, they can check for professionalism, voice, language, tone, vocabulary and personality! This can be quite overwhelming. But if you prepare, the phone call can be a lot easier for you. Here are some tips from our leading job coaches on how to prepare for the telephone interview from recruiters as well as www.targetjobs.col.uk:

  1. Research the company and review the job description
  2. Make sure to confirm a date and time for the phone interview with the employer. And double check that you have a working phone line.
  3. Find a quiet location without any noise or other distractions like music, the TV, crowds of people. Do not call in public areas like restaurants or cafes. Have a glass of water just in case your mouth goes dry but don’t eat or drink while talking on the phone. Shut off all your other phones other than the one that is used for the interview.
  4. Bring a pen, paper, laptop, a copy of your resume, the job description and any notes that you have taken in your research. Take notes during the interview that you can refer back to later on (especially if you are invited for the in person interview).
  5. Ask a friend or relative and/or your job coach to help you rehearse for the interview. They’ll give you feedback on how you across on the phone. You can record yourself so you can listen to see if you are speaking too quickly or too quietly in order to improve.
  6. Request accommodations in advance – before the telephone interview. Discuss this with the job coach from your employment program. If you would like the job coach to attend the interview, you may or may not need to advise the interviewer. But if you require an afternoon time slot for the interview or if you need a special phone with higher volume, discuss this with the interviewer in advance.
  7. Write out the responses to the most commonly asked phone interview questions (like a script): “Why do you want to work for us”, “What are your salary expectations”, “Tell me about your experiences, your education, and your skills that will help you with the job”, “What do you know about our company”, “What are your short term and long term goals”, “On a scale of 1 – 10, how would you rank your skill level with (fill in the blank).
  8. Prepare questions to ask the employer. But remember – this is not the time for a discussion about the details of the job like salary, training and start dates. If you progress to the next stage, you will have a chance to understand the company better.
  9. Be professional. Answer the phone professionally – “Good morning, Joanna Samuels speaking” is an example. Address the interviewer as Miss, Mrs., or Mr. unless invited to use his or her first name. Be polite. Be enthusiastic. But don’t start chatting like you are talking to a friend. Listen carefully is important.
  10. The interviewer can hear it through the phone.


To submit your questions and comments to this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email jsamuels@reena.org