PURPOSE - The aims of this study are to review the literature examining the arguments for and against the telephonic qualitative research interviews, to develop criteria for assessing when the use of the telephone is suitable in qualitative research and if suitable to offer detailed strategies for the effective use of this data collection instrument. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH - The study is a thematic analysis of the literature, informed by the researchers' experiences using the telephone, computer-based audio and face-to-face interviews for an accounting research project involving 50 semi-structured interviews with managers. FINDINGS - The study identifies five criteria to determine the suitability of using the telephone in qualitative research interviews. In addition, the study offers a set of detailed strategies on what to do before, during and after a telephonic qualitative research interview. RESEARCH LIMITATIONS/IMPLICATIONS - The study can assist qualitative researchers in deciding when to use the telephone and how to use it effectively. ORIGINALITY/VALUE - The study builds on the limited prior research and provides a more complete list of strategies on the effective use of the telephone in qualitative social sciences research. These strategies are a synthesis of existing studies and observations drawn from the author's study, which examines the work of organisational managers. In comparison, prior studies have been based on research projects that explored sensitive personal issues and emotive experiences not always related to managerial work.