​Telephone Interviews – our top 10 tips for success

By: Robert Gaines

So you’ve been put forward for a job and you’ve been selected to go through to the next stage – only this interview is going to be over the phone!

Don’t be tempted to not take it seriously, phone interviews are one of the ways in which candidates can be screened to filter out those who are unsuitable and to perhaps pinpoint those who sound like they may have that bit more potential than others. Questions will often be focused on your CV, used to check the details and assess experience and confidence. So how do you deal with a phone interview to give yourself the best chance?

Here are our ten tips for telephone interview success:

1. Be prepared. Treat it as you would if you were going to a face-to-face interview. That means doing your homework on the company and knowing who you’ll be talking to.

2. Have your CV to hand. This is one advantage of a phone interview, you can refer to it as need be to check facts. But don’t be tempted to read from it like a script, remember the interviewer will be looking at your CV too.

3. Likewise, have a copy of the job description, along with notes about how your experience is relevant. This will act as a prompt during the interview.

4. Dress for the occasion. It may sound crazy, but it will make all the difference. If you’re in pyjamas you’ll actually sound casual. The phone interview is business - if you feel more confident wearing a suit then get dressed up. It doesn’t matter that no one can see you, it’s all about attitude.

5. Be in the right place. Make sure that you can take the call in knowledge that you won’t be disturbed. Choose somewhere where there will be no interruptions and no one can listen in. It’s all about keeping your stress levels as low as possible. Try to avoid using your mobile but if you have to, make sure you have good reception and a fully charged battery – the last thing you want is for the interview to be cut short because you can’t hear each other or the battery dies. Don’t take the call while driving even if you’re hands-free! The sound quality will be poor and you won’t be able to give the interview your full attention either.

6. Don’t waffle. It can be difficult, especially because you can’t see your interviewer’s face and gauging what they are thinking is next to impossible. Concentrate on speaking concisely and with confidence. Don’t rush and don’t be tempted to keep talking to fill a silence.

7. Smile when you’re talking, it’ll help you sound enthusiastic. Standing up can also help - you may feel more assured and animated. Standing is also meant to improve your vocal quality! Talking in front of a mirror so that you can see how you’d come across in a traditional interview setting can also be useful – practise during calls to friends or family and get feedback on how you sound.

8. Have your own questions ready. Make sure you’ve studied the job description carefully and think about what else you’d want to know – either about the job itself, the company or its culture.

9. Be prepared to talk about your salary expectations, reasons for moving job and your ambitions.

10. Make sure the interviewer knows that you are interested in the position! On closing the call, make sure you find out what the next steps are and how long the process is likely to take.

Remember, the person interviewing you is likely to have been doing a number of interviews. It’s important that you give yourself every opportunity to shine – the more effort you put in to your preparation the better the interview will go and the more likely you will be to stand out.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that Skype is becoming a common method for initial interviews, and all the above tips are applicable. If it’s a video interview it makes your personal presentation even more important!

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