Recruiter Insights

Phone Interviews: 10 do’s and don’ts you need to know

Recruiters share their top insights for nailing your phone interview at Microsoft

A phone interview is the window of opportunity into a career here at Microsoft, and it can be a great platform to make a winning first impression! How you come across during a phone interview with a recruiter can potentially have a big influence on landing a job, either now or in the future.

Take a look at some of the top phone interview do’s and don’ts as curated by Microsoft recruiters Maasa Walker & Joel Havermans!


  • Do set the stage and make sure the environment is optimal. Make sure you have a good cell phone/Skype reception prior to the interview (try calling a friend or do a check ahead of time). Grab a quiet conference room or, if possible, consider working from home that day so that you’re in a more comfortable environment and away from colleagues or additional disturbances.
  • Do block time out of your calendar. If the call is proposed for 30 minutes, try to block out between 10-15 minutes on either side of the call just in case there are any delays, or to prevent the need to end an awesome conversation due to another obligation.
  • Do research on the company & the position you’re applying for. Take some time to do a quick Bing search on Microsoft’s latest products and what’s going on in the business. Make sure you carefully read the job description and highlight some skills mentioned and be able to speak specifically to them. Having questions ready to go will also show off your research which will certainly help in giving you additional kudos!
  • Do think about what the recruiter may ask you. By putting yourself in the recruiter’s shoes, you will be one step ahead and better prepared, providing clearer and more insightful answers to their questions.
  • Do be ready to share some success stories. During the call, you’ll most likely be asked situational questions where you can demonstrate how you’ve applied your skills & strengths. By thinking about those situations ahead of time and having your success stories ready to go, you’ll be able to articulate them in the most persuasive and effective way.
  • Do give us a reason to say YES! The recruiter’s job is to verify what he/she saw in your resume. There’s a reason why you got to the phone interview stage in the first place! We want to verify/confirm that you are, in fact, a great fit for the role for which you applied, and possibly other open roles too. Give us a reason to say YES and enough ammunition to persuade the hiring manager to give you a shot at an in-person interview.


  • Don’t provide one word answers. The recruiter will wish to know more about you and why you’d be a good fit within the Microsoft culture. Providing one word answers throughout can sometimes be taken as a disinterest or lack of preparation for the call. Be engaged & excited!
  • Don’t go wayward. Going on and on and on can be confusing for the listener to follow and sometimes it can even be disengaging. Be short, concise, and to the point. Make sure you align your answers in a way that provide succinct replies without too much detail or without going off-topic. If unsure, stop and ask the interviewer, “Did that answer your question?” By asking questions, it can then allow the interviewer to guide the conversation back to what is relevant, giving you the opportunity to answer the question in more than one way.
  • Don’t wear beach attire. Should the call be via Skype video, be sure to dress in relation to the role you’ve applied for. A tee shirt is normally fine, however anything less on the top half can seem unprofessional. Even if this is an informal phone conversation, “dressing up” can absolutely help get you in the zone and help you prepare for the conversation.
  • Don’t get ahead of yourself. Your ultimate career goal may be a director role or even CEO, but we recommend focusing on the role you are interviewing for right now. We love people who are driven and motivated to grow, but we want to see that you’re excited about the role you’ve applied for. If your interviewer asks about your 5-year plan, by all means, discuss it, but try not to imply that you’re taking the role as a transition. Also, when discussing salary expectations during the initial phone interview, we recommend not going into hard negotiations or ultimatums right away. Focus on getting the offer for the job you’re applying for first, then negotiate your salary.

What were your favorite do’s or don’ts from the above list? Anything we missed? Tweet at us at @MaasaWalker and @Joel_Havermans, and you can also connect with us via LinkedIn here and here.

And, of course, you can always follow @MicrosoftJobs for even more insight about life at Microsoft.