How to nail your telephone interview

Here are some tips to nail your telephone interview with confidence and successfully make it to the next stage of the application process. First interviews are often conducted over the phone, they help recruiters to assess if you are a serious applicant and whether or not to take you further through the application process. Questions are likely to focus more on your general skills, and your aim is to show your commitment and enthusiasm through the short conversation.

The bonus of doing phone interviews is that they are much more convenient (you can do them in your pjs) for both parties and quicker than a face-to-face. Recruiters will be particularly interested in how you come across, if personality and telephone skills are highly important for the role. Remember that the lack of visual clues can be tricky for both involved and can impact how you come across.


Planning and researching

Like any interview, be prepared. Nerves are normal, but you can keep these at bay if you have done your homework.

Try to find out as much about the recruiter as possible and read the job description carefully to identify how you match the selection criteria. Also plan the questions you think are likely to come up and the ones you want to ask, especially the general ice-breaker type questions like ‘What interests you in this job?’ or ‘Tell me a little bit about yourself’.


Practice makes perfect

Any previous experience will help. But if you do not have any ask a friend, relative or someone at your careers services to help you build confidence. Any feedback is helpful and they will be able to give you insights on how you come across.

Another way of practicing is to simply record yourself and then listen back and try to identify any problems, like speaking too quickly or mumbling.


Think of your environment

Tell your housemates/ family what is happening and ask them to not disturb you, make sure that your room is quiet (turn off the telly and mute notifications on your laptop). You can use speakerphone only if you know that you will not be interrupted and you are happy talking like that.

Wear what you like, some people like to dress formally because if you feel professional you’re more likely to sound professional. But the choice is yours. Think about your position in the room, sitting near your notes, a copy of your application/CV, the interview details and with pens and paper to hand might make you feel more relaxed. But make sure to organise your notes so you can easily grab information to reference, you don’t want to distract the interviewer with the constant rustling of papers.


Stay calm

Before you begin, take some deep breaths and relax. Also you will be amazed how a simple smile can shine through in your voice and relax you. Speak clearly and at a normal pace, once started you’ll forget all about your nerves as you will be focused on the interview.

If you find yourself faced with a tricky question, don’t rush just take your time. Pauses are OK in all interviews, and if you didn’t hear or understand a question you can ask for clarification.


Be professional

Always be professional. Answer the phone with: ‘Good morning, Harry Potter speaking’, and always address your interviewer as Miss, Mrs, or Mr unless offered their first name.

Always be polite. Be animated and enthusiastic but don’t be overly familiar and start chatting as if talking to a mate. Remember to listen carefully and try be concise.

In the case that you are ringing for an interview, make sure you think of what your greeting will be beforehand to sound more confident.


It’s only round 1

Ask questions at the end, but it is definitely NOT the time to discussion start dates, training and salary. Sometimes interviewers are only incharge of the first round so they may not be able to answer detailed questions, but if you make it through to the next stage you will have a chance to assess the company further.


The Telephone Interview Don’ts

  • Lots of background noise: it is too distracting for both of you, so avoid cafes.

  • Munching and slurping: have a glass of water nearby just in case your mouth goes dry mid call, but don’t decide to tuck into a 5 course meal mid way through.

  • Obviously avoid taking other calls, responding to texts or watching facebook videos.

  • Multitasking: Focus only on the interviewer and the call going on. Do not try to make your lunch, reply to emails, check Facebook or blow dry your hair.

  • Being too laid back, literally: Don't slouch on the couch! Sit up straight, as it will help you feel and sound more confident and alert. Some people find taking calls standing up immediately gives energy to their conversation.