Our Recruitment Team’s Top 5 Telephone Interview Tips

After dusting off and polishing up your CV (with our handy CV guide) and patiently waiting for an invitation to an interview, it can feel like a step back for some to be asked to do a phone interview initially. However, phone screenings as an initial step in the interview process are actually becoming more commonplace, especially in this strange time the world is living through with COVID-19, many companies are not allowed have external visitors on site and are resorting to phone and online interviews through mediums like Zoom, Skype, MS Teams and Webex.

The beauty of phone interviews is that, while they help companies determine which candidates should be invited to in-person interviews by gauging their interest in the company and if their skills fit the role, they also help interviewees determine whether the role and the organisation will be a good fit for them (which is equally as important!)

The great thing about telephone interviews is that you can keep notes to hand to glance at during the conversation if you get stuck. So, make sure to make clear, relevant notes, and keep your CV, cover letter, any questions you want to clarify and the job description to hand. (*Top Tip – Keep a pen and paper beside you to make any notes during the call.*)

It’s important to take a phone interview as seriously as you would a face to face interview. This is your first personal interaction with a potential future employer so treat every interaction in a professional way, from the first hello to the last goodbye (and onwards!)

Treat your phone interview the same as you would a face to face and plan ahead. Research the company and what they’re looking for in a new employee. Make a note of anything you find in your research that may have happened recently and be considered newsworthy or any questions you may have about the company, culture or your role.

Prepare Your Environment:

Your environment is important during the phone interview. Remove all distractions and reduce noise as much as possible. Do this by muting your laptop, making sure your tv / radio or anything else that can make noise is off and there’s no washing machine or dishwasher going in the background. If you have pets, put them in a different room. For in-person interviews, you dress in work-appropriate clothes. It is a good idea to do this for a phone interview too. You might initially feel a little silly wearing work clothes in your kitchen but it is a good way to put yourself in the right frame of mind for an interview. (*Top Tip – make absolutely sure that it is a phone interview and not a Skype interview!*) If it is a video call interview, find a neutral-looking area in your house and set up there (making sure there’s no dirty dishes or laundry visible!)

Technical Preparations:

Ensure you’re not in a place where your internet or phone reception can drop suddenly. If this is a cause for concern, book out a room at your local library or workshare space. If you’re doing a call using external video software such as Skype or Zoom etc make sure to practice using this beforehand so there’s no surprises or hiccups on the day and everything runs smoothly (you can ask a friend to help you out with this.) Make sure the device you’re using has a full battery charge and any extras you may need such as an external microphone / speakers etc.

When On The Call:

Before the call, confirm all the details, including the date, time, and who you will be talking to. Be sure you know whether the interviewer is calling you or if you need to make the call or sign in to a portal etc.

When you answer the phone respond with your name “hello, Jane Doe speaking”

Listen carefully to the interviewer and don’t start speaking until the interviewer finishes the question. If you have something you want to say, make a note of it on your notepad and bring it up when it’s your turn to talk (if they haven’t already covered it!) Be comfortable to stop talking once you have answered the question being asked.

Enunciate your answers and keep your speech to a reasonable pace. If you’re worried about this practice with a friend or family member! Make sure to smile, people can hear it in your voice and it gives a friendly and open impression. You’ll be talking quite a bit so it’s good practice to have water to hand for the off chance of needing to take a drink to ward off a cough or dry throat etc.

Know Your CV:

The great thing about phone interviews is that you can have your CV or any notes in front of you for reference. You can write out any key points you’d like to mention during the talk and refer to them throughout (or at the “any other questions” part at the end of the interview.) Don’t panic and waffle! Prior preparation will be key. Practice beforehand to limit the chances of you getting flustered and know what you want to speak about. Be clear and concise in not only the way you speak but what you’re speaking about. You don’t want your interviewer having to ask you to repeat what you said because they couldn’t understand you. (*Top Tip – If you’re nervous ask a friend to do a mock phone interview with you so you’re used to the format and feel comfortable talking through your answers on the day.*)

They will be fact checking your CV so make sure you know it like the back of your hand. Make notes of date of employment and any achievements / responsibilities. Don’t over exaggerate or lie as you will be caught out and you don’t want to put yourself in that situation. Ensure your information on LinkedIn matches that included on your CV.

Have relevant previous experience examples ready in front of you to speak about should you be asked. Try vary your examples so you’re not using the same story to highlight each point. Be able to mention a relevant challenge and give examples of how you overcame it. Tailor your answers to what they’re looking for in the job spec when mentioning your skills and experience.

At The End:

Use this opportunity to ask any questions you may have that weren’t covered, if something about this role doesn’t suit you, you want to know as soon as possible so you’re not wasting yours or your interviewers and not jeopardising future potential relationships.

End on a positive note by thanking them for their time and you appreciate the opportunity.

After the phone interview, it is always a good idea to email the interviewer or mail them on LinkedIn to thank them for their time. While the interview is fresh in your mind, write down the main points you thought the interviewer emphasised about the role and the company. It is likely that these will be brought up again at the next stage of the interview process. If, following the phone interview, you realise that the job was not what you were looking for, tell them! Honesty is always the best policy, and it is not fair to waste their time if you do not intend to pursue the role (you don’t want to risk ruining the relationship in case apply again for a future role.)

At Recruitment by Aphex, we’re with our candidates every step of the way, from the submission process right through to the acceptance of an offer. We’re on hand to answer any questions you may have about your role, potential company, CV, or interview technique. We also provide our candidates with mock style preparation interviews with our in-house experts and engineers to ensure you’re feeling completely prepared and confident in your abilities. Want to find out more about how we can help you in your search? Contact us to set up a conversation with our team to discuss how we can help you.