Life Advice



Ask Amy: Job interviews by phone are not an easy call

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I'm about to have my second phone interview.

Pre-pandemic, when interviews were in person, I took great pride in showing off my good people skills and confident demeanor. I enjoyed courteously greeting my interviewers, flashing a big smile, and delivering a solid handshake. I spent many years in customer service so I know how to smile over the phone, but how do I compensate for all the other stuff?

Do you have any advice for tackling phone interviews?

Living the New Normal

Dear Living: My own experience with job hunting is that the in-person interview was receding long before the pandemic hit. Depending on the career, typically job candidates are expected to take online personality tests, write essays describing the color of their parachute, and then go through at least two phone interviews -- before graduating to a Skype call. And yes, it can be very challenging to hit all the right notes when you can’t rely on facial expressions and body language.

My advice is that you do your homework, researching the company you wish to join and the job description of the position. Understand and write down key metrics applicable to the job. Connect with the interviewer (if possible) on LinkedIn or other social media.


Have your resume printed out and in front of you. Bring notes to the call.

Start by listening -- the person interviewing you will set the stage. Keep any personal anecdotes short.

Relate specific positive job experiences that will enhance your application (“I dealt with a version of that at my previous company. Here’s what we did…”).

Be prepared to discuss (sigh) your greatest weakness or most regrettable failure. (Note: “I care too much and work too hard” is not an answer.)


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