If you're searching for a job, this could be you:
You recently sent out several resumes and are eagerly awaiting to be contacted.
You had a job interview that you're excited about and are hoping they'll call you.
If so, then this could also be you:
When your phone rings, you are so excited that it could be the company that you sent your resume to or interviewed with that you answer your phone immediately.
You don't want to be rude, when the phone rings you should answer it.
If you don't answer, they might think you're not interested and offer the job to someone else.
You missed a call earlier and didn't know who it was so you don't wan to miss another one.
Instead of focusing on the speaking strategies for phone calls, I want to focus on a preparation strategy. Often, it's not the speaking on the phone that is difficult, it's the listening. Without strong listening skills, you can't form an appropriate reply and confusion and miscommunication is the result. I have a suggestion that could be helpful for anyone, but even more so for people who speak English as a second language.
Keep in mind that every interaction you have with a recruiter or anyone from the company you are applying to is a part of the interview process. Every e-mail and phone call is representing you before and after you are in that conference room for an official interview. You may be careful to not text back quickly in reply to an e-mail, so you should be careful not to pick up quickly for a phone call.
Consider variables that affect your phone call quality:
Noise - outside environment, weather, transit, other people talking
Situation - inappropriate place to take a call (e.g., theater, car), conversing with others, busy, on another call already
Attitude - distracted, in a hurry, sleepy, upset
Technology - quality of the sound on your phone, battery life
Most of these are not related to your speaking skills yet they can all impact the quality of your response. It is better to let an important call go to your voicemail than answer and have a conversation that doesn't represent you well.
I recommend getting a free Google Voice phone number and setting up your account to receive voice mails that are transcribed for you. I won't go into all the details because you can easily find that information online from Google.
These are the features that are most useful for multi-lingual speakers.
Read it first - The voice mail message that the caller leaves can be read as a text transcript and from my own experience using it, it is very accurate. You can play the audio while looking at the text so if there is something that's a little off, it's much easier to figure out in the context of the whole sentence. You can also edit the transcript to add info or make corrections.
Multiple devices - The calls can be received on your phone, not just on a browser, so you won't miss receiving calls or reading the transcripts when you're not at your computer.
Specialized voice mails - You can set up different voicemail greetings for different incoming numbers. You could have friends receive a greeting in one language and all "unknown" numbers receive a greeting in English.
When you have the text to read in addition to hearing the audio voice mail, you have more information to form a good understanding of the message and can begin to form a clear and accurate reply.
Practice what you will say in the call before you call back. This will make you more familiar with the vocabulary and pronunciation that you'll use. Practice speaking with a slower-than-conversation pace so if you get voice mail and need to leave a message, your name and number will be easy for the listener to understand.
Anticipate what questions might be asked so you can be prepared. If its about scheduling an interview or a second visit, get your calendar ready. If it's a first time call, have your resume ready so you can refer to dates and specifics that are on there.
If you have prepared what to say and have your calendar and resume handy but you get their voice mail, you will be much more prepared to leave a calm and confident message.
The biggest benefit of using Google Voice, or any voice mail feature that will transcribe the messages for you, is that it gives you time to prepare and return the call on your terms, when you are ready, confident, and in the best situation possible. It's better to miss a call in a bad situation than to take it and make a bad impression.