Top tips for a successful telephone interview


With some jobs receiving in excess of 100 applications, the use of telephone interviewing as an additional stage, prior to any face-to-face interviews is becoming more common.  Whether it’s with a recruitment consultant or direct with the hiring manager, you should treat it as you would a face-to-face interview.  If you don’t impress during a telephone interview, you will not be called to the next stage and you’ll wave goodbye to your chances of securing that job.

To help you succeed, here are our quick tips to mastering a telephone interview:

  1. Be prepared – In the words of the Scouts – Be prepared. Treat it as you would a face-to-face interview.  Have a copy of your CV handy, research the company, make a note of any questions you may have and have a pen and paper to hand.  Don’t forget the simple things, do you know who you are going to be talking to, their name, job title? Go through your CV, skills and experience have examples of your successes and achievements.  For example, when you managed a team or project, how you helped achieve a team goal etc.  Make sure you have key facts and figures in front of you, so you can quickly quote them should you need to. Before the call starts, read the job description and advert again. Make sure you’re fully aware of what the key responsibilities and requirements are for the role.  This way you will have it fresh in your mind and can tailor your answers accordingly.It’s a good idea to have a glass of water ready as lots of talking, especially while nervous, can dry your mouth out.  But don’t eat or worse chew gum while speaking.
  2. Location, location, location – while technically a telephone interview can happen anywhere, walking down a busy street, sat on a commuter train, or hiding from your colleagues in the cleaners’ cupboard aren’t the best options. A quiet room/location where you are free from distractions and able to talk freely will give you the best chance of success.  If you’re able to take the call at home, make sure you turn the TV or radio off and ask any family members/friends/flatmates to leave the room.   If you do have to take the call while out and about, leave yourself plenty of time to find a suitable quiet spot.It is preferable to use a landline so there are no reception difficulties. However, if this isn’t possible, make sure you have good reception before starting the call and that your mobile is fully charged. You don’t want to risk getting cut off while you’re on a roll.
  3. Don’t forget body language – it might sound silly as the person at the other end of the phone can’t see you, but how you act, what you’re wearing and how you sit etc will all have an impact on how you feel and how you come across on the phone. So, while it might not be necessary to be suited and booted, make sure you are dressed in a professional manner.  It will make you feel the part and you’ll be more focused if you’re wearing office attire, rather speaking to someone in your pj’s. Same goes for where you are sitting if you are at home try to sit at a table as if it were an interview, rather than curled up on the sofa.  This, along with simple things such as smiling while talking, will all have an impact on how you sound to the person at the other end of the line.

Taking all this on board and treating it like you would any other interview will give you the best chance to succeed and make it to the next stage.

‘Top tips for a successful telephone interview’ was written by Fiona Telford Career Concierge, Chiumento Ltd. If you like what you’ve read why not follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and read all our future careers advice and musings on the world of work.

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