Preparing For Your Phone Interview

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Periodically I receive questions about how a person should prepare for their upcoming job search or their upcoming interview. I appreciate you asking me advice about the job search process and I welcome your questions. This week was no different. I received an e-mail from Bill (not his real name) who has a telephone interview for a position within a college athletic department.

Bill asked how he should go about properly preparing for his upcoming phone interview and what type of questions he should ask. These are great questions; so let’s discuss some thoughts on this topic.

As you prepare for your upcoming telephone interview there are some thoughts that you will want to focus on. For example, the interview is about them (the organization) and not you. Let me explain this.

The reason the job is open is because the organization has a need. Without this need, the position wouldn’t exist. So the over-riding questions you need to answer are “what are their needs, how can I solve their problems, and what makes me the best fit for this position and their organization?”

So let’s examine these thoughts. First, how do you prepare for the phone interview? You will want to make sure that your phone is charged and is in good working order. Also, you will want to make sure that there is good telephone coverage or service in the area, and that you have a location for your interview where you will have privacy and no distractions. I also like to dress up a little bit so I feel I’m ready for the interview. This will help with your confidence, which will come across loudly in your conversation. Also, know the answers to potential interview questions, and what questions you want to ask the search committee. You will want to practice your answers so you are smooth in your delivery. A lack of preparation will sound like you are unsure of yourself or even that you’re not qualified for the position.

To help you prepare for answering the interview questions you will want to develop a personal sales pitch. Also known as an elevator speech, your personal sales pitch is a short statement of who you are and what makes you qualified for the position for which you are interviewing. Your pitch will include three subsections that you can use to sell yourself. And if you are asked a question that you’re unsure of the answer, you can revert back to your personal sales pitch. During a phone interview, I like to have my personal sales pitch (and answers to interview questions) lying in front of me or taped to the wall so I can glance at a key word and remember the answer. This is a little trick I’ve used to help me during my telephone interviews. But make sure you’re not reading the answers word for word. This would come across poorly on the other end of the telephone. These are some thoughts on how to prepare for your phone interview. Now let’s examine Bill’s second question – what questions should I ask the search committee?

Asking questions during an interview is a vitally important aspect of the process. If you don’t have any questions for the search committee, that’s a clear sign that you’re not qualified for the position. So what type of questions should you ask? When interviewing for a job I always like to think of myself as a consultant who is trying to uncover the problems of the organization so I can propose solutions to their problems and also so I can sell myself as the “consultant” they want to hire. As a consultant you will want to ask questions such as who, what, why, when, where and how come. Answers to questions will spur on additional questions. Ultimately, you will want to ask yourself “why should they hire me?” You need to answer this question and help them to believe you are the best person for the job.

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University. He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach. He is also an author of 9 books. Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at or his new book Execute for Success at  


The #1 Careers Book in Sports

2nd edition Image

In Getting Hired In College Sports you will discover:

  • The types of jobs that exist in college sports
  • How to plan and navigate your career
  • How to create an effective job search campaign 
  • The proper way to create an effective resume, cover letter, and sales pitch
  • How to properly brand yourself
  • Techniques and strategies to prepare for your interview
  • How to properly prepare yourself for the five types of interview questions 
  • How to properly follow-up after the interview in order to influence the decision of the hiring manager

Only $23.95 Click Here To Purchase 

“I have recommended this book to many aspiring sports administrators.  This is a must read for anyone who wants to work in college athletics”

-Bill Fusco
Director of Athletics
Sonoma State University




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s