It seems that everyone I know is out on the job hunt these days. And with the increasingly impersonal process of interviewing for work, the phone interview is often the first hurdle. I have a foolproof (and very thorough) process to prep for a phone interview that will leave a you well positioned to advance to the next step. Note that some of the points are fairly specific to the world of advertising and marketing, but can broadly be applied to pretty much any job search.


The OCDelight Foolproof Phone Interview Prep

There are three categories on which to focus: your work, your personality, them.

Details on each are in the paragraphs below.

Be sure to:

  • Create a Word doc of each of the following topics and have them printed/pulled up and ready to go.
  • Have your cover and resume printed out and ready to go.
  • Have notepad and paper at the ready.
  • Place glass of water by you to avoid smoker’s cough. No gum, dumbass.
  • Don’t ramble, stick with short answers and follow up with your questions when you can. Stay focused and concise.

The key to getting to the next step of a real-life in-person interview is preparation, although the average phone interview is usually only 30 minutes.

Your Work Background (have answers or bullet points prepped for each):


Tell me about yourself

In three sentences, how did you get here.

Short list of your accomplishments

List 3-5 with measurable (preferably financial) impact.

Job history and responsibilities

Have a chronological list ready that focuses on the points of your work history that directly correspond to the job description.

Major challenges and how did you handle?

Have 1-2 examples prepped. Problem —> your thought process —> solution.

Why are you leaving your current job?

Memorize your prepped response – stay positive, focus on the fact that this does not align with your strengths/future goals.

Salary range

I would avoid this over the phone if possible. Maybe keep it vague like “I’m negotiable and would like to discuss it in person.” If they force it, have one in mind and be able to back it up. If you can get any intel on this, even better – hit up


Your Personality and Attitude (some standard questions):

Strength and weakness?

Yeah it’s stupid, but have one of each handy just in case: i.e. “I brought piss to a shit fight.”

How do you handle stress and pressure?

What motivates you? 

How do you motivate others/manage a team?

How do you evaluate success?

What are your career goals?

What are your hobbies/personal stuff/etc?


Them: Company research – DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Find out as much as you can – in advance of the interview – about the following and do a write-up:


-Team of managers

-Client list

-Philosophy (they have a lot of this on their site)

-Current campaigns (also have a list of 3-5 clients/campaigns that they have done that you like/that resonate with you and why)

-Recent achievements and news

Check out their website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Also connect w/ her on LinkedIn and read up on her history – it’s good to have that information.

Make your list of questions (in order of what is most relevant to the person interviewing you – tailored to his/her level and background) based on:

  1. Job listing – duties, requirements, next steps, start date, client?
  2. Company research findings (some examples below)

If you’re on with upper management, I would steer more towards big picture, company culture questions.

How would you describe your culture?

What type of people succeed at Awesomesauce Agency?

Who would you consider to be your biggest competition?

What differentiates Awesomesauce from other shops?

What’s in store for the future? What are the big initiatives on the horizon?

What’s your client service philosophy?

How does Awesomesauce handle new business – do you have an established process?


In the case of a founder/principal/president, you don’t want to hit her rapid-fire with a laundry list of crap over the phone, especially about the day-to-day nonsense, which she might not be as familiar with. So boil it down a top 5 list of topline/strategic questions to show her what a badass you truly are.


ALWAYS end the call by telling your interviewer that you want the job

“I’m interested, this sounds like a fantastic opportunity and I would be an ideal match. What are the next steps? I can go ahead and get a list of references over,” etc…

And don’t forget send a thank you within 24 hours restating your interest – handwritten notes are kick-ass, but also follow up with an email in case their office is the type that takes forever to deliver the mail.


You’ll kill it.

They’ll call you back to come in.


I’ll cover in-person interviews on a future post.





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  1. Jo Anne Annichiarico says:

    truer words were never said!!

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