Top Tips for a Telephone Interview

Any interview is daunting and telephone interviews can seem especially scary if you’ve never done one before. Just like face-to-face interviews, preparation is essential, so here are some tips to enable you to impress over the phone.

Before the call:

  • Research – This sounds obvious but finding out as much as you can about the company or organisation will be a big help. Interviewers will be pleased to hear someone is knowledgeable about the place they’re hoping to work and less than impressed if you don’t have a clue. Find out about the size and structure of the company, its products and services and so on. This could be as simple as looking at their website but also keep an eye out for mentions in newspapers and online.

  • Make a list of questions – As well as the interviewer finding out about you, the call will be an opportunity for you to find out more about the job. You may want to get more details about the exact nature of the role and its responsibilities or ask about opportunities for progression in the company. Asking the interviewer for more details will give the impression that you’re really serious about the role.

  • Practice – It may not sound difficult to answer questions over the phone, but it can be a very strange experience if you’ve never done it before. You might want to get a friend or family member to call you and ask some interview questions so that you can get used to the process and feel more calm and prepared for the real thing. Reed have a helpful list of potential phone interview questions that you could use for this.

  • Create the right environment – You need to make sure you’re somewhere quiet and free of distractions. When organising the interview with them think about what days and times you can make this happen; your bus ride home in rush hour probably isn’t the best time. Make sure TVs are off and other devices that could distract you are away. Just like in a regular interview, you should be alone so ask family members, no matter how supportive they are,to give you some peace.

During the call:

  • Have your CV on hand – It’s likely the interviewer will have a copy too so you won’t need to recite the whole thing, but they may ask you for more detail on a certain aspect. For example, they might ask you to expand on your work experience listed so it will be helpful to you to see exactly what you wrote so you can elaborate.

  • Keep a pen and paper handy – Since you’re going to be asking lots of brilliant questions, it makes sense to have a pen and paper to hand to jot down some notes. You might want to write down key things they mention about the role and the company so you can refer back to them later. You should also note down the information regarding being contacted after the interview and make sure you have their contact details too. They might let you know if you’ll be called or emailed and approximately how long you’ll have to wait. Confirming details of the rest of the process once again shows your interest in the role.

  • Look the part – It sounds odd since the interviewer can’t see you, but many recruiters recommended dressing smart as if you were going to a face-to- face interview. The reason for this is that it helps you get into “interview mode”. If you’re sitting in bed in your pyjamas it could be more difficult to focus and get in the professional mind set. It can also help to sit at a desk so you can have your papers out in front of you easily.

  • Smile – Again, we know the interviewer can’t see you but you would do it in a regular interview and it can help here too. Smiling while you talk makes you sound more enthusiastic which is very important when your voice is the only thing the interviewer has to go on. With talking over the phone, there is a danger of sounding bored or starting to mumble, so pay attention to how you’re speaking and make sure it’s clear and upbeat.

  • Be succinct – Phone interviews are usually shorter than regular ones so you don’t really have time to tell that really long anecdote about why your grandma is your role model. Basically,you need to condense it down to your key selling points so the interviewer knows what you’re about and why you’re suitable right away. At the same time, resist the urge to talk too quickly and get muddled, you want the interviewer to think that you’re calm and organised.

After the call:

  • Remain in contact – Although the worst part is over, you can still continue to give a good impression after it’s done. It’s polite to send a brief thank you email to confirm your interest.It seems like a small thing but it might be enough to make you more memorable to them. Following that, if they told you that they would be in contact then all you can do is wait but make sure you’re regularly checking your email and phone so you don’t miss something important.

  • Get feedback - Even if you don’t get the job, it’s always worth getting in touch about feedback on your interview. They might tell you what went well and what not so well so you can keep it in mind for your next interview. Plus, even if you weren’t right for that particular role, some companies may offer interviewees a different role that they think suits them better so it’s always worth just giving them that call back.

It’s completely normal to be nervous about an interview but by doing the research and preparation,you’re giving yourself the best chance possible when comes to doing it. Before long, you’ll be blowing interviewers’ socks off and heading off to the next stage!


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