How To Prepare For A Telephone Interview

‘We are pleased to inform you that we have decided to take your application through to the next stage. We would like to conduct a phone interview with you next week’

So, you’ve made the cut - good work! Now for the phone interview *gulp*.

No need to worry! We’ve created a set of telephone interview tips for you. Gosh- aren’t we nice!

1. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

If there is one thing that will help you to feel really confident during a phone interview it is preparation. Don’t be misled into thinking that because phone interviews are shorter they are somehow require less groundwork. You need to prepare just as much as you would for a face to face interview.

This means a) finding out company information, b) preparing answers to common interview questions and c) thinking of times when you have exhibited each of skills listed on the job description.

2. Practice (makes perfect)

One option is to record yourself and listen back, so you can pin-point any common faux pas, such as speaking too quickly, or mumbling. Better still, ask a friend or relative to conduct a practice phone interview with you. They’ll be able to give you feedback on how you come across by phone. Yes, both of these options will make you cringe, but they will help you in the long run.

3. Have your notes out

The main advantage of phone interviews as opposed to face to face interviews is that you can have notes out. The trick is to create neat, concise notecards.

The last thing you want to do is rustling loudly through endless scraps of paper, trying to find where you scribbled down why you are perfect for the job.

With notecards there is no rustling and they are easier to flick through quickly. Also, if you bullet point your note cards, you won’t be tempted to read anything word for word ie. you avoid sounding like a robot. Sorted.

4. Listen

Companies also want to see if you can listen. Make sure you pay attention to what the interviewer is saying and be reactive. In a face-to-face interview, you can show that you are listening via non-verbal signals such as nodding your head. Over the phone you don’t have this luxury, so show you are listening by the occasional "OK", "uh-huh", "I see", "I understand", "yes" etc!

One tricky aspect to phone interviews is that it’s very easy to interrupt your interviewer as you can’t see when they are about to stop/start talking. Always allow for a small gap before you begin speaking. Not only will it give you time to think of a coherent response, it will also mean you don’t speak over the person you’re trying to impress!

5. Smile

OK, so this is on a par on the ‘cringe scale’ with practicing phone interviews with friends/family. However, during a phone interview you should smile when you are speaking. Your voice does sound different when you are smiling, you’ll come across as noticeably more positive and confident.

6. Dress to impress

Have a sense of occasion. This interview is important to you, right?! Well dress to impress! Never wear PJ’s or dress down clothes; if you feel casual you’ll sound casual. Dress as if you are going to an interview, or at least smartly, and your confidence will be boosted.

7. End on a high

It’s likely that your interviewer will end by asking you if you have any questions. Have a couple up our sleeve.

Bear in mind, this is not the time for a discussion about salary, training and start dates, if it’s a phone interview it’s far too early to be thinking about all of that, and it will make you seem fussy and a little too big for your boots!

At the end of the phone call, thank your interviewer for their time and say that you look forward to hearing from them. Follow this up with a short email, thanking them again for the interview and re-iterating your interest in the role.

Et voila! Phone interview done.

‘We are pleased to inform you that you have passed the phone interview stage of the application. We would like to invite you to an initial face-to-face interview next week.’

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Killer Interview Questions Part 2
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