How to Master the Telephone Interview

January 11 2015, 0 Comments

How to master the telephone interview

Due to the large numbers of applications per vacancy in the UK, hiring managers will often use telephone interviews as a quick way of screening multiple candidates to whittle down large short lists in minimal time.  

If you want to nail the telephone interview and make it through to the face-to-face stage, there a few basic steps you need to cover.


Don’t think it will be informal

A lot of candidates make the mistake of thinking that a telephone interview will just be an “informal chat” but this is rarely the case.

The interviewer will be taking it seriously, so you should too.

You need to carry out all of the research and preparation you would for a face-to-face interview, such as studying the job spec and learning about the company.

You need to be professional at all times and ensure that you are giving well-structured and intelligent answers to all questions.


Arrange a suitable place to take the call

To eliminate distractions, interruptions and inappropriate background noise, make sure that you secure a quiet spot where nobody is likely to bother you; and do so well in advance.

This could involve booking a meeting room, popping out to your car, or even booking a morning off work.

You need to assimilate the manner in which you would deal with a customer or senior colleague; so don’t be that candidate who took the call in McDonalds or a coffee shop with constant interruptions and distractions going on in the background. 


Be in front of a computer or similar device

The main benefit of not being visible to the interviewer is that you can have as many supporting documents and websites open in front of you as you like.

Take full advantage of this.

As a minimum you should have your CV, the job spec and the company website (relevant pages) open to cover most of the topics likely to be discussed.

It’s also a good idea to have some extra notes on your achievements; for example if you’re in sales you may be asked about your recent sales figures.

If you’re in Marketing you may be asked about success rates of your recent campaigns.

If you have the exact figures in front of you it will be a lot easier to reel the numbers off and sound confident doing so.


Know your diary

If the telephone interview goes well then the interviewer may well invite you in for a face-to-face interview there and then.

If this happens it pays to know your diary.

You don’t want to keep them hanging on the phone awkwardly while you riffle through your calendar; and you certainly don’t want to be calling them back later to find other candidates have stolen your slots.

You need to get your interview booked in ASAP and be first in the door.


Push for the face-to-face invite (subtly)

The previous tip is only useful if the interviewer makes an invite of course; but getting one isn’t always easy.

Even when impressed, interviewers will not always make an invite during the telephone interview for a number of reasons:

They may have a recruiter who usually handles all of the interview arrangements, they may wish to speak to all candidates before deciding who gets invited, they may need to confer with other decision makers in the business… The list goes on.

However if the interview is going well and you’re picking up positive signals from the interviewer then you can ask some leading questions at the close, to tease an invite out of them:

“When should I expect feedback?”

“What would the next stage be for successful candidates?”

I stress to only use these questions when the interview is going well and remain tactful and unassuming; you don’t want to come across someone who thinks they’ve got it in the bag.

This will not always work but it’s a great way to secure a face-to-face interview and get ahead of the competition.

Do you have any telephone interview tips or questions? Comment below


Start your CV Writing Service with a free CV review