Telephone interview tips

ON May 29, 2018

Love it or loathe it – many job interviews are now taking place over the phone. Interviewing over the phone has become increasingly popular, as more and more companies are leaning towards the idea of screening candidates before meeting them face-to-face. With companies now adopting this modern method, the likelihood of being interviewed for a job over the phone is high. It is thus vital that you make a good impression, and this, unfortunately for some, has to be done without the help of body language and/or facial expressions.

How to prepare for a telephone interview

Preparing for an interview is always important, especially if you have never had a phone interview before. Here are some points to think about when preparing for an interview:

  • Research – Always be prepared to research the company before the interview. Interviewers tend to ask questions about the company and you do not want to sit there, unable to respond because you don’t know the basics of what the company does. Never be shy to ask questions about the business as well, this will show interest.
  • Plan – Upon finding out that you will be having a telephone interview, it is best to note down all of the important information, i.e. the time of the interview, who the interview will be with and roughly how long the interview will be. Finding out this information will help you to be prepared for the interview.
  • Check – Before the interview, it is usually best to check the technology that you will be having the conversation on, and in this case, it is a phone. If you are having an interview over the phone then it is a good idea to make sure your mobile has enough charge and that the location you will be in has a good signal beforehand. If you are taking the phone call on a landline then make sure the connection is ok and that the phone is in a location where there will be no distractions.
  • Back-up – One thing that you can do to assist you in the interview is to prepare a phone interview “cheat sheet”. The sheet can have common interview questions and answers to help you find your feet if you get lost for words.

What to do during a telephone interview

Any type of interview can be terrifying, but once you get past the introductory stage, you should be fine. Nonetheless, here are some words of wisdom, specifically geared towards telephone interviews, that can help you to feel more at ease:

  • Stay Calm – The interviewer will know that the interview may be daunting for you, so don’t worry if you get thrown by a difficult question, stay calm and allow yourself to ponder on the question. Honesty and transparency are also appreciated in these situations. If you feel like a question is too out of reach for you to answer then just be honest and say “this is a tough question, let me just think about that one”.
  • Speak clearly – There is nothing worse than misinterpreting a sentence and this can easily be done when the interview is over the phone. This can, however, be avoided if you speak clearly and at a steady pace.
  • Have your CV to hand – During the interview the interviewer might reference your CV and ask you questions about it, so it is important to have your CV at hand because you can look back at what you said.
  • Listen – This might go without saying, nevertheless it is an important element to consider. Take on board all elements of the interviewer’s questions so you can answer properly.
  • Tone of voice – With no face-to-face interaction, it can be hard to pass off your message clearly; hand gestures and body language often help interviewees to better communicate. The only thing you can really rely on in telephone interviews is your tone of voice. Remember: interaction over the phone can lack the conversational style of a regular one-to-one interview, so try to sound positive and avoid mumbling your responses.

Sample interview questions and answers

To further help you, here are some examples of potential interview questions and answers.

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

This question is popular amongst interviewers because of the context of the question. It allows you to fully introduce yourself and basically sell yourself to the company. It may seem like a simple question but it can be the one answer that gets judged the most by the interviewer because it helps them to get an idea of who you are.

What do you know about the company?

Research is key for this question. Interviewers ask this question to get an understanding of what you know, but most importantly, how much interest you have in the company.

What would you like from a job?

This question is a chance for you to communicate what you expect from a job. Your answer should ideally be based on what the position already offers you, but make sure you are specific about what attracted you to apply for the role in the first place.

What are your salary requirements?

Don’t be afraid to answer this question. Just be practical and realistic. Salary is important to everyone and most companies simply want to know because they want to make sure they can approximately give you what you are looking for.

Telephone interviews differ from face-to-face interviews. Nonetheless, try to treat them like any other interview: answer the questions as best as you can, stay calm, be confident and sell yourself!

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