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Three top tips for a successful telephone interview

By Jo Hodge on 14 Jun 2017

Not all interviews are face to face and more organisations are conducting telephone interviews as part of the initial recruitment process. In many ways, they are no different to a face to face interview, but it can be more difficult to build a rapport with someone when they can’t see you and feed off each other’s body language, which can result in awkward silences. Here we have put together our top tips to consider and what to avoid!

Prior to the call

As with any interview, ensure you have done your research. Browse their website, think about the questions they may ask you and have some prepared answers, ensuring you are covering points in the job description and person specification. It is also a good idea to have some questions prepared to ask them. These should be around the company or the role, don’t ask about salary or holiday entitlement at this stage.

Before the call get up and get dressed! By being up and ready and feeling presentable, you will naturally present better. Where possible use a landline to avoid any signal problems and if you have to use a mobile check the signal before and ensure it is fully charged.

Ensure you are sitting or standing up straight, in a quiet room with no distractions (mobile phones on silent/ television off.) Have a glass of water, your CV in front of you, pen, and paper to take any notes and get ready to smile whilst you talk! This last point may sound odd, but it will make you sound more confident and friendly. 

During the call

Answer the phone professionally. For example, ‘Good morning, Lucy speaking.’
Listen first, the interviewer will most likely talk a little about the role and the interview process. Take notes so you can follow up on these points when relevant during the interview. Don’t panic if there is odd moments of silence, especially after you finish talking. The interviewer is most likely noting down your answers. Listen carefully to each question and take a moment to compose your answer. If you didn’t hear any part of it, don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat the question.

Keep answers short and to the point, it is harder to keep people engaged via telephone so ensure you don’t ramble on. Don’t speak via speaker phone, as your voice can be less clear and it might sound obvious, but ensure you aren’t chewing or smoking during the interview.

Follow up

Remember to finish the call professionally and on a positive note. Tell them you are still interested in the role and look forward to hearing from them. If relevant, follow the call up with an email.

There will often be a face to face interview at a later stage, so write up any notes whilst they are fresh in your mind and jot down any other questions you had. 

For further interview advice, including our interview cheat sheet and combating interview nerves, visit our careers advice section.