What To Do During A Telephone Interview

By: Andrew Reed | Updated: 3 January, 2024
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What To Do During A Telephone Interview.Having a job interview via the phone can be somewhat nerve wracking if you have never done it before.

For those who pride themselves on their physical presence in a room, it can seem a little daunting, as they only have their voice to rely on. For others, the thought of not having to worry about how you look or what to wear is a definite perk. Either way, an interview is still an interview and you should be on top form even if you don’t have to go into your prospective employer’s offices.

A Popular Option – Why Phone Interviews Are Used

Telephone interviews are a lot more commonplace these days, and are often used as a way for the employer to gather certain basic information about you. This enables them to inexpensively review possible candidates in the early stages of the recruitment process.

Depending on the job, and if there are more possible interviews to come after the phone call, the employer may just be on the lookout for a clear, confident telephone manner and intelligent interview answers to some set questions. This approach to telephone interviews uses the call as a way to narrow down the pool of applicants. However, don’t take this for granted, as many telephone interviews can last quite some time (up to an hour and a half) and expect you to give detailed answers on information such as your relevant previous experience.

Don’t panic! Here are some worthwhile tips for you to bear in mind before and during your interview.

Keep Your Guard Up

A telephone interview is still a normal job interview, and you should treat it as such. Don’t get caught off guard and make sure the time that you arranged for your interview is suitable; a quiet time when you won’t be interrupted by kids, pets, or have a lot of background noise. This can be harder during a phone interview seeing as you can be wherever you want to be, so set some preparation time before the call to get your head together and get ‘in the zone’.

Make sure you have your CV/resumé and other important documents to hand and easy to refer back to whilst giving your interview answers. Do the same for any other pieces of information you think you might need. A copy of the job role and description from the company should be among these. This brings us to our next point- research.

Do Your Research

Prior to any job interview, you should have done your research. Not just about the role you are applying for, but about the company as a whole; employers are far more inclined to think you have the skills for the job if you already know a lot about them, what they stand for and how they work. Even if this information isn’t talked about at first, the fact that you know it will benefit you at some point along the way. Also make sure you have a pen and paper handy in order to take notes of what they are saying, as it can be quite embarrassing having to call back up to ask for information a second time.

Swot Up on Your Interview Answers

Think about your interview answers in advance, even though you do not know what questions they will ask. Again, this is a commonplace technique for any interview, but it tends to be a lot easier to get distracted and lose track of what you are saying in your own environment, opposed to facing employers in an office.

According to a Michael Page Recruitment survey, only 27% of interview candidates bother to practice answering questions in advance.

Go so far as to plan your wording to some of the inevitable questions you will be asked, and practice saying them out-loud. This will fuel you with an extra confidence boost when they do come up. You could even record your ‘answers’ and listen back to them to give yourself some constructive criticism. Removing the ‘uhm’s and ‘okay’s will make you seem more efficient and confident about what you are saying. Write down some questions that you would like to ask them, too, and keep them to hand as you would in any other job interview.

Technical Difficulties

With regard to the phone, we all know that relying on technology doesn’t always work to plan. So, make sure that you have the caller waiting option turned off so you don’t get calls coming through during your interview and ensure that the phone is fully charged before the call.
You don’t want to be scrambling around looking for chargers, or having to sit with your ear next to the phone cradle whilst it charges.
It is a long shot, but if the facilities are available to you then it might be worth using a telephone headset. This will leave your hands free to take notes, look through papers, and not be focusing on holding the phone between your ear and your shoulder whilst you look.

Feel Comfortable

Physically, make sure you feel tip-top. Just as you would for an interview in the flesh, the better you feel, the better your answers, manner and level of confidence will come across.

Also, remember to smile!

Smile and the world smiles with you, as they say. Not only will it come across in your voice, giving you more confidence and personality, but it will make you feel better in yourself and more relaxed.

If you’re not confident with talking on the phone at all, which some of us aren’t naturally, then it wouldn’t hurt to do some practice calls to hone your ‘phone voice’. Ask a friend or family member to call you and ask some typical set interview questions, then give you some feedback. Remember, as well, that it is just another human being on the end of the phone, and not some scary monster that is going to laugh at you if you get something wrong!

Think Positive

Hopefully this has given you a little boost and you now feel more confident about your upcoming telephone interview. If you are still unsure, write a list of things you need/want to say, and stick it to the wall so you can see it whilst on the phone.

And if you want to really excel why not consider a subscription to the InterviewGold online interview training system. It has worked for thousands of candidates and will teach you how to really stand out in a telephone interview and in fact in any job interview irrespective of the sector or level.

About the Author |
Experienced interview coach with Anson Reed and co-author of the bestselling interview guide Top Answers to 121 Job Interview Questions. With over 20 years experience of recruiting and leading large teams Andrew is well placed to know just what is required to secure a job offer.