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Conducting a successful Telephone interview

6th Nov 2017

It is becoming more common for employers to offer telephone interviews particularly for summer placements where students may be studying in one location but choosing to work in a different location over the summer.  Telephone interviews are a good method of reducing the number of people who are brought forward to the face to face interview stages.

Below are some hints and tips on how to make a good impression on your telephone interview to help ensure that you are one of those selected for the next stage.

It is important to remember that a telephone interview is an interview so always make sure you prepare for it

It may sound relatively straightforward, however even the most skilled applicant can be rejected at this early stage for simple things like being inadequately prepared or not speaking in a professional manner.  It can be a difficult experience for some as it is more difficult to form a rapport when you are unable to make eye contact and see their body language. The easiest way to prepare is by following these simple tips.

  • Research

It is important to find out as much as you possibly can about a company, and a job role, before any type of interview; a telephone interview is no exception. You may receive some information from your prospective employer or us here at e-Placement Scotland, but make sure you also visit their website, competitor websites, read relevant trade press, and keep aware of current industry-specific issues. It is also helpful to know the size of a company, its structure, its products and services, its markets, competitors and where possible, future plans.

  • Plan

Plan for possible questions you may be asked before your interview. Consider answers you can give, including good experience examples. Also spend time thinking up questions you would like to ask your interviewer. Asking your own questions shows you are interested in the company and job role.

  • Practice

Practice is useful, especially if you haven't worked in an office or used a telephone to talk to professionally before If you can, try getting friends or family members to call you.  

Telephone Interview Quick Tips

  1. Relax. Telephone interviewers are more concerned with finding out about your personality than your answers to questions.
  2. Be somewhere quite where you won’t get interrupted
  3. Don't use slang or colloquialisms.
  4. Try to sound confident and capable. Smile
  5. Make sure you are polite throughout the conversation.
  6. Review company information before the interview to settle you into the right mindset.
  7. Practice. Ask family or friends to call you and ask interview style questions, before the real thing.

So, let’s get down to the finer details;

What should we do to make sure that the telephone interview is successful?

Get in the right mind set

Many candidates find it hard to adapt to telephone interviews and struggle to get into interview "mode" when talking to interviewers over the telephone. The key thing to remember is that you need to be as professional and presentable as you would in a face-to-face interview. If it helps you get in the correct mind set you should dress for the occasion put on what you would wear to a face to face interview and be sure to speak over the telephone as you would in person.

Find a quiet place to answer the phone and put yourself to work studying some relevant material on your company or industry before the scheduled call so that your mind is already focused on work.

Make sure you smile when answering your phone. If you force yourself to smile, you physically become more relaxed and as a consequence your voice will sound more confident, friendly and assertive. If you do this, you will come across much better when speaking.

Standing up, rather than sitting down, can be a good way to keep your confidence and enthusiasm levels high.

Finally, make sure you keep a copy of the advert you applied to, job spec if you were given it, your CV and your cover letter.

Things to do to avoid having an unsuccessful telephone interview

  • The use of slang words and terms - It will make you come across as unprofessional and unprepared.
  • Holding your interview at an inconvenient time - It is essential to properly plan when and where you will be when organising your telephone interview. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a loud, busy place when your interviewer calls.
  • Answering the phone incorrectly - Your telephone interview begins from the second you answer the telephone and ends only when the conversation, questions and your goodbyes have been completed. Aim to impress your interviewer at every stage.
  • Forgetting your interview - Candidates who forget a pre-arranged telephone interview are destined to fail. If a recruiter calls a candidate who appears to be confused, unprepared and disorganised, they will be unlikely to invite them for a face-to-face interview.
  • Getting interrupted - Almost as bad as forgetting your interview is organising your interview at a time, or in a place, where you will be interrupted. Ensure wherever you want to take your telephone interview is a place where you will be left in peace.
  • Forgetting to charge your telephone - If you will be using a mobile phone, remember to charge it on the day of your interview. If your phone cuts out, or starts beeping during conversation, you risk irritating your interviewer or losing your train of thought.

Concluding a Telephone Interview

Part of the reason why firms conduct a telephone interview is to find out how keen candidates are about working at their company and in the particular job role applied for. It is important to be enthusiastic throughout your telephone conversation, but make a particular effort to be assertive at the end.

Your interviewer may be able to tell you at the end of your conversation if they would like to see you for a face-to-face interview. If they do not, there is no harm in asking when you might hear from them regarding the next interview stage. If they do, thank your interviewer and ask them for some further details, such as: when, where and with whom your interview will be; if there is anything you should bring with you to the interview, what the interview format.

 

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