Companies are more and more now using telephone interviews as part of their screening and interviewing process, before inviting the final few for a face-to-face interview. It’s important that you take a telephone interview as seriously as a face-to-face interview as this can be a deal breaker if you get invited in or not.
Telephone interviews could be used when:
- • Candidates have to travel a long way.
- • There are a large number of candidates.
- • Screening by CV is difficult (for example, when a number of suitable candidates are identified).
- • A large part of the job will involve talking to people on the telephone.
- • To reduce recruitment costs and save time.
- • When applying for a job via a recruitment agency.
There are two types of telephone interviews, scheduled and unscheduled. Often the first contact for a scheduled interview comes via email, but it could also come via a telephone call. Make sure you answer it yourself and have a professional voicemail and tone to your voice.
Unscheduled calls never work in your favour. If you’re caught by surprise, or you’re not in an environment where you can speak to a prospective employer, schedule another time to talk. Nobody should blame you. Just make sure the new time you agree you are prepared.
1. Preparing for Telephone Interviews
Preparing for a telephone interview is just as important as preparing for any other form of interview. This could be your opportunity to impress your new employer verbally rather than reading your CV and it very well may be your last, so make it count. You can pick up some extra tips on how to prepare for interviews here.
Research the company and role before your telephone interview by reading the job description fully and viewing their website or other associated articles. If you have applied for the role via a recruitment agency you will probably receive a lot of the information from them, however don’t let that stop you from doing your own research, as every candidate the agency has put forward for the job has the same information, get ahead of your competition.
Note down any questions you would like to ask during the telephone interview. Ask about things that are important to you, especially if your decision rests on the answers to continue with the application.
Before the call make sure you have a pen, paper, job description and your diary to hand. Make sure your TV or radio is switched off and if you’re using your landline that you’re mobile is set to silent or switched off. Lock yourself away from any distractions or unwanted noise.
Have your CV to hand. It is likely the interviewer will already have this in front of them. However, if they ask you a question from your CV it’s always best to have it in front of you so you can reference the question or the section they are referring to. If you have used our awesome CV Builder then make sure the page is loaded ready.
Get dressed before the call. It may sound strange, but by getting yourself ready for a face-to-face interview and wearing smart clothes such as a suit, empowers you. Also, try and stand up during your telephone interview if you can, studies show it can make you sound more confident.
2. The Call
Sometimes an employer will ask you to call them at the agreed date and time. Make sure you’re ready for the interview at least 10 minutes before. Don’t call too early as this shows over-keenness and may damage any potential negotiations later on, and don’t call late. Call at precisely the agreed time.
If you can’t get through leave a voicemail or a message with the receptionist to show you called at the right time. Ask when the manager is expected to be free and try again then. If you’re told the hiring manager will call you, do not expect the same rules to apply! They will call you when they are free.
Your tone of voice is the important aspect of this interview, this will instantly tell the hiring manger if you have confidence and how to interact and engage on the phone.
The main rules are:
- • Sound interested, energetic and enthusiastic.
- • Speak slowly, be concise and don’t waffle.
- • Think about how you normally answer the phone. When you answer the phone do so by announcing your name in an enthusiastic manor, for example “Joe Blogs, Good Morning!”
- • Don’t use jargon.
- • Don’t swear or use colloquialisms (local phrases: Where’s the apple and pears?)
- • Ask open questions beginning with who, what, why, when, where, how; these all ask for information and keep the ball in the other person’s court. Also be prepared for them to do the same.
- • Be polite, refer to them using their surname until invited to use their first name.
- • Don’t smoke, chew gum, eat or drink, however keep a glass of water handy incase you need to wet your mouth.
- • Don’t interrupt the interviewer. If you do so by mistake, apologies and ask them to continue.
- • Remember the goal is to set up a face-to-face interview. After you thank them, ask if it would be possible to meet in person.