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How to excel in a telephone interview

Written by Kimberley Startup | January 12, 2011 | 4 Comments

Interview adviceDid you know, 30% of organisations and 45% of private sector services conduct telephone interviews before inviting candidates to their offices for a face-to-face interview?*

Employers use telephone interviews as a way of identifying and recruiting candidates by narrowing the pool of applicants who will be invited for a face-to-face interview.

Here is some essential advice to help ensure you’re at your best when interviewed over the phone.

Be prepared: preparation for a telephone interview is important and first impressions count, so ensure to make a checklist like the one below:

– Find out as much as you can about the company and the job
– Make a note of any questions you would like to ask
– Know your CV and plan what might be asked in the interview such as education and career history
– Shortlist your accomplishments and ensure they are available to view
– Practice a mock interview and tape record it so you can see how you sound over the phone

The Call: If you have been asked to call at a specific time, call at precisely the correct time. If you have been told that the hiring manager will call you – do not expect the same rules to apply. They will call you when they want to, but make sure either way, your surroundings are quiet and that you won’t be disturbed.

– Smile (even though no one can see you, smiling will help you to relax and sound more positive)
– Be succinct and answer with confidence
– Ask open-ended questions and reflect back what the speaker is saying
– Have a pen and paper to hand and make notes of what is covered
– Use the interviewer’s title (Mr, Ms and their last name)

Closing the telephone interview: part of the telephone interview’s aim is to find out just how keen you are. As soon as it seems appropriate thank the caller for their time, express interest in the opportunity, and ask for a date to meet for a face-to-face interview.

It’s important to take the time after the interview to write down the questions you were asked and any ways in which you could have improved your responses. This will help if you are called to a face-to-face interview as you will have a better recollection of what was discussed.

Above all, stay positive. If you need further interview advice, we offer a range of resources for candidates looking for their new role.

* Source CIPD

4 thoughts on “How to excel in a telephone interview

  1. Pingback: How ‘The Voice’ speaks for you in a phone interview | Online Recruitment Blog | Job Hunting & Recruitment Tips Tricks & News

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  3. Sharon Clews on Reply

    Excellent advice, I only hope those seeking jobs will read it. I’m saddened by the responses I get when doing telephone interviews, which at the moment is 60% of my work. I would love to add a few more tips, a little more general:
    1. Answer the phone with your name.
    2. If you are actually keen for work, get voicemail.
    3. Be aware that the person on the other end of the phone can hear background noise (dogs, girlfriends, children)
    4. When asked, what do you know about our company, the best response is not “I don’t know, I’ve applied for loads of jobs”
    5. Be prepared for the biggest question, “what can you bring to our company”. This isn’t just experience, we want to know what makes you a valuable team member and contributor to business.
    Thank you for the opportunity to comment, great tips!

    1. Web Recruit on Reply

      Completely agree with you, Sharon. Particulary point 4 – it’s important to keep a list of every role you’ve applied for, including date applied and contact name, to ensure you sound professional if you’re caught off guard.

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