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How to tackle a telephone interview

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 6 Dec 2019

Telephone Interview Hero Image

Telephone interviews are a great way for employers to get to know you a bit better as a professional before they invite you to a traditional face-to-face interview. However, if you have never had a telephone interview before, it may feel a bit daunting. We have some tips and advice for you on how to go about telephone interviews and help get you as prepared as possible.

Prepare as you would for any other interview

You need to do the same amount of work preparing for a telephone interview, as you would for a face-to-face interview. You need to do the background research on the company, you need to thoroughly read the job description and you need to go through the list of required skills and see how they match up with yours. It’s the same process, you just won’t be seeing them in person – yet. You need to impress the interviewer you are talking to. It’s a first stage interview, so if you don’t take the time to try and impress them with your enthusiasm, then you may not be invited to a face-to-face interview.

Try and work on your verbal communication skills

When you are having a phone interview, the downside is they cannot see you or your body language. They are simply going by what you’re saying and how you are saying it. You want to talk at a normal pace and try to speak with enough enthusiasm to sound right for the job, but not like you’re over dramatising it. You need to try and get the right balance. Maybe take some time to practice talking at a good pace and volume, maybe even try and get a friend to give you some help. It’s the same as a face-to-face interview, you want to be confident in what you are saying.

You can have notes at hand

The interviewer isn’t going to know that you have your notes in front of you. You can use this as an advantage. Your notes shouldn’t necessarily be long winded, you should stick to bullet points, so they are easy to read if you need to be prompted. If you have long sentences, it can lead you struggling to read your notes quick enough and can cause a long silence. This is not what you want. Notes should aid you as and when you need them.

It is also a good idea to have your CV at hand. The interviewer probably has one in front of them, so having this ready means you can answer any questions they make in relation to your CV. For example, if they ask about your experience in a previous job, sometimes nerves can take over, having it written in front of you can help keep you calm and ready to talk.

Having questions at the ready can be very handy as well and unlike a face-to-face interview, you don’t have to memorise them. These are usually asked at the end of the interview and they’re a very important part of the interview.

Before the interview

Get ready – As you normally would, get up as usual, go about your normal morning routine and get prepared for the telephone interview. Make sure you are eating and drinking, getting dressed and treating it with the same importance as a face-to-face interview.

Get organised – You want to be in a suitable place for the phone call to take place. Make sure your phone is charged and ready to go and you are in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. You don’t want any background noise interrupting the phone call. Make sure you have all of your paper work ready and you have turned off any computers and other mobile devices. You don’t want to be distracted by anything. Sometimes it can show in your voice if your attention is elsewhere. Make sure this isn’t the case.

During the interview

Answer the phone professionally – You want to be ready to answer the phone, not rushing around as it’s ringing. Be ready in your chosen space, at the correct time, ready to answer the phone. You should answer the call with confidence and introduce yourself, just like any other time.

Speak at an even pace – You don’t want to be rushing. If they have asked you a question, take the time to answer it, if you have prepared correctly you won’t have to worry about being caught out with questions you don’t know how to answer. Talk at a good speed and with good volume, you want them to be able to hear and understand you.  

Listen! – It’s important that you listen to what they have to say as well. It can be hard not to accidently interrupt over the phone because you can’t physically see them. However, give them a good amount of time to speak and then give them a reply. It’s important to pay attention when they are talking and not get distracted.

Conclude as you normally would – You should end the interview in the same way you normally would. Ask any questions you may have, thank them for their time and wish them a good day. It’s the same etiquette you would normally use, just minus the handshake. You want to finish the call on a positive.

After the interview

If you have their details to hand and you are still interested in the position after the interview, it can be a good idea to follow-up with them. Send a thank you note or email to the employer after the interview thanking them for their time and reassuring them of your interest in the job. If you do follow-up be organised and be ready for a response. Keep on top of things and reply if they send you an invitation for a next stage interview.

By taking the interview step by step and being prepared and organised, you will be able to take the call and come out having learnt something about the company as well as them knowing more about you as an individual. These types of interviews lay some important groundwork for future interviews and taking this advice can help you prepare well and come out with a positive result.