Telephone interviews may seem less formal than a face-to-face conversation. But don’t be fooled! This preliminary phone chat is an important part of the selection process, and it doesn’t pay to be too laid back.

So if you want to sail through to the next stage of the recruitment process, read on to discover our top telephone interview tips.



They’re free to attend, save on time and there’s no need to dry clean that suit. But to avoid being screened out as an unsuitable candidate, you need to treat your telephone interview seriously. Instead of just sending your application form off and forgetting about it, make the most of any waiting time by using it to prepare.

Researching the company or organisation is crucial. Check out their website, follow them on social media and spend some time researching their products and services. It’s also worth finding out about any competitors and keeping up to date with industry news.

When it comes to practising for your interview, why not ask a friend or family member to phone you and offer some helpful feedback? Check whether you talk clearly enough and ask them if you come across as a good communicator.


Get comfortable

By this, we don’t mean lounging on the couch in your pyjamas while you take the call. In fact, dressing formally for a phone interview can help you to take it seriously. Your aim is to sound professional but relaxed and you can achieve this by organising the space around you.

Whether you’ll be in the kitchen or your home office, choose a space where you can guarantee being free from distractions. Close the windows, put your mobile on silent and pour yourself a glass of water in case nerves make your mouth dry.

While some people find it helpful to sit at table or desk during their interview, standing up can increase your energy and confidence. Whichever you opt for, have a copy of your CV, a pen and your notes to hand when the phone rings.

It’s time to relax and focus. Try breathing slowly and deeply just before your interview, as this will help you to speak slowly and think clearly.



Communicate with confidence

First impressions count, so start by politely introducing yourself. Focus on talking clearly and smoothly, as your interviewer will be keen to discover how well you can communicate. This is a particularly important skill for customer service roles or jobs that require plenty of personality.

Use your interviewer’s questions to demonstrate your knowledge of the role but be succinct. You can always offer to add more detail if it’s needed. If there’s a pause in the conversation, don’t panic! Instead, ask for a little extra time to reflect or ask the interviewer to clarify anything you don’t understand.

Being able to listen carefully is an essential skill when it comes to telephone interviews. You might not be able to communicate interest by nodding your head or smiling, but you can interject with the occasional “I see.”


Plan your responses

You won’t impress anyone if you sound like you’re reading from a script, so it’s worth planning and practising how you’ll respond to the most common interview questions. Why are you leaving your current job? What interests you about the job your applying for? Why is there a gap in your work history?

To help you convince the interviewer that you’re a good fit for the role on offer, go through the job description carefully and make a note of how your skills match the selection criteria. Reduce your key points into a series of short notes that will serve as a reminder and keep them by your side throughout the interview.

As the interview draws to a close, you’ll also get a chance to ask questions. Because this is your final opportunity to make a positive impression, bypass the obvious ones. Instead, why not make a few enquiries about the company culture, or ask about the training you’ll receive?

Finally, remember to ask when you’ll find out if you’ve got through to the next stage of the recruitment process. If you don’t hear anything by that date, you can then follow up with an e-mail and ask for feedback.

If you’d like some extra help with honing your interview technique, contact Career Ladder today!


Anna Whitehouse writes for Inspiring Interns, which help career starters and interns succeed in the workplace. To browse their graduate jobs visit their website.

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