As the world of work changes, the hiring process is changing with it.

Employers will now often use telephone, video, group interviews and presentations to help them find the right employees. We’ll be running articles on each type and how you can prepare for success.

Today, we take a look at the telephone interview.


Why do companies use telephone interviews?

Telephone interviews are commonly used as a first stage as they are quicker and often easier to arrange than standard face to face interviews. There is no travel required, no meetings rooms to book and less chance of people being late (or early, for that matter).

In addition, with a job that involves regular use of the phone (customer services or sales, for example) then they can be a good way of assessing the phone manner of the candidate. 


What to expect in a telephone interview

  • It is likely that a phone interview will be shorter than a face to face interview, but we still advise leaving a one hour window open for the call
  • Questions may be more general, such as:
    • Tell me a bit about your previous experience?
    • Why do you want to work in this industry/for this company?
    • Can you describe a situation that has been challenging for you at work
  • The employer will be looking to see that your language and tone match that of your CV – remember that they wanted to speak to you based on your CV, so you must know it well and use matching language where possible
  • There may be occasional silences during the call. Be prepared for these by making sure that you have clear answers and don’t continue to talk when you have finished your sentence or answered the question
  • Employers are looking for enthusiasm which can be harder to express over the phone. They expect you have taken the interview as seriously as you would an in person interview


How to prepare for success

Know your CV and the company

This goes for any interview, but you should have identified why your CV matches up with the job description. On top of this, make sure you have researched the company. Read about their mission statement, company values and their products/services. The more you know, the better the chance of success.


Prepare to fill in the gaps

Are there gaps between your experience and the job specification? Or are there time gaps in your CV? Make sure you are ready for these because the employer will want to address them. They are checking your suitability for the role and these gaps are often the first thing they will want to address.


Prepare some short, sharp and clear answers

Without being able to see the person, it is very easy to continue talking for too long. Ensure that you have a summary of yourself, of your experience, of what you enjoy and of what you know about the company.


Don’t assume it’s less formal

It’s likely that a phone interview will be slightly less formal, but do not assume that is the case. Answer the phone as professionally as you can and then react to the tone of the person on the other end. If in doubt, stay formal.


Find a quiet spot

We suggest you do the interview from a quiet room at home, but if you can’t find peace there then plan ahead and find a quiet corner at a cafe. Inside is much better than outside for phone interviews.


Dress smart (and stand up)

We get asked this a lot, but our basic advice for phone interviews is that you should dress smartly. Perhaps you don’t need to wear a full suit, but make sure you feel confident yet comfortable. Also, there is lots of research to suggest that standing up makes you feel and sound more confident. You don’t have to take that advice, but make sure you aren’t lying down. Smiling will also help you sound positive and engaged.


Ask the same questions you would in person

What opportunities are there for progression? Is the job likely to change and evolve? What is the size of the team I would be working in? Ask questions that matter to you, but we certainly suggest having two or three written down in advance.


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