If you’ve been busy solving big problems at your current job, you may not have had a chance to think about how to prepare for a phone interview. Rather than go in cold, take a few moments to make sure that you are well prepped. Getting through this is the first step to being invited to an onsite interview.

  • You’re not sitting in a cafe, are you? You want to be comfortable and relaxed but not distracted and be able to hear and understand the interviewer. If you can’t be at home, pick a quiet place where you have some privacy.

  • Kinda hard to do a phone interview without a reliable phone. If you’re not on a land line, make sure your cell has a good signal and your battery is charged. Sounds obvious, but a poor connection makes you hard to understand and a busy interview team may choose to simply move on. Have a good set of headphones so you can keep your hands free for typing or taking notes.

  • Take a moment to prepare please. Read up our website, understand our company culture and make sure you know where our offices are. Ask questions about our company and your interviewer will appreciate the interest and will reciprocate. You want to be memorable on the phone and this will help you get invited onsite.

  • Have a pen and paper ready. Some people find it easier to answer questions when they can sketch out the solution while they talk. And hey, maybe doodling helps you think.

The Interview

We try to ask reasonably technical questions that can be answered without you having to use a whiteboard to sketch out the solution. This is a phone interview after all. Every position is a bit different — you may be applying for a back end position, a front end developer, a full stack developer or a UX/UI designer. Regardless, we expect you to be able to handle coding questions.

During the conversation, feel free to understand the question and state it back but paraphrased in your own words. This shows that you understood the right question and buys you time to think of a solution. Sometimes just talking out aloud helps you come up with the answer. Hearing your thought process is invaluable to the interviewer, especially if they are asking you questions which are open ended or have no specific correct answer.

Did you get asked a big, hairy question? Start out with a simple overview and then decompose that into smaller problems. Attack each smaller problem separately. Even if you get a few sub-parts wrong, you may answer enough just right to convince the interviewer that you’re on the right track. So, high level design first and then more specific solutions after.

Comic courtesy of XKCD, via Creative Commons License

Never be afraid to ask a question back. Ask or clarifications or even state the assumptions you are making before answering the question. This shows that you are experienced in framing every solution within known or assumed parameters.

After you’re done with the technical part of the interview, your interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. Don’t worry about asking the right questions or the wrong questions—this is your chance to find out about what interests you. Ask us what we do, what you would do with us and how the interviewer likes working at SpinSys. Interview them right back!


Give us a few days to get back to you. We may have quite a few phone interviews lined up and we want to speak with everyone before inviting a select few on campus for the interview. Keep in touch with your recruiter from SpinSys and they will always give you honest feedback on how the interview went and what to expect next.

Good luck and happy interviewing!