student on mobile phone doing telephone interview

Telephone interviews

Making a good impression over the phone

Phone interviews are an important part of the recruitment process, requiring the same preparation and professionalism as a face-to-face interview.

Organisations use telephone interviews to efficiently screen applicants and shortlist those suitable to progress further in the recruitment process. They’re usually pre-arranged to occur at a mutually-agreed time, however, they can be spontaneous.  An employer may also suggest a telephone or Skype interview if you are unable to attend the interview in person. Here are some tips for making the most of the interview:

1. Be prepared

If your interview has been pre-arranged, make sure you do your research, just as you would for any other job interview. Prepare beforehand by reading the job advertisement carefully, noting the key criteria and how you meet them.

Think about possible answers to sample interview questions. Practise going through your answers, preferably with another person. Have your resume and notes on hand to refer to if needed, and jot down things to say. Keep a pen and paper handy.

If you receive a job-related phone call at a time and place not conducive to conversation, courteously arrange with the caller to speak at an agreed time. It’s a good idea to keep track of your job applications and your reasons for applying for each role so you’re not taken by surprise if a recruiter calls.

2. Check your voicemail greeting

In case you miss a recruiter’s call, ensure your voicemail greeting is clear and professional. If your usual greeting is inappropriate in a professional context then you will need to change it before you submit your first job application (you can always change it back after you have found employment). Don’t underestimate how damaging a negative first impression can be when you are seeking work.

3. Take the interview seriously

A phone interview is more than a casual chat. Keep your tone and language professional and give thoughtful answers to the questions you are asked. Remember that this is your first opportunity to demonstrate your suitability for the job.

4. Create a quiet environment

Find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted or interrupted and ensure you have good reception if on your mobile phone. Turn off music or TV in the background. Don’t eat, drink, chew gum or work on the computer while on the phone.

5. Build rapport

You’ll need to rely on verbal and aural cues to build rapport as the interviewer can’t see your body language. Listen carefully and ensure that the interviewer has finished speaking before you answer the question. Use the interviewer’s name during the course of the interview, smile when you talk and speak clearly and concisely. Try to make your tone upbeat so the interviewer can feel your energy and enthusiasm. Imagine the person is in the room with you and that you are speaking directly to them.

Ask for information to be repeated if you don’t hear properly, and ensure you repeat back names, phone numbers and directions to confirm you have the correct information.

6. Follow up

At the end of the interview, ask any questions you may have about the role or company. Finish by thanking the interviewer for their time and indicate your interest in meeting in person. Follow up with an email of thanks to let them know you are keen, and to keep yourself fresh in their mind.