Time is precious, and especially for hiring managers, so telephone interviews are now a widely-used first-stage assessment tool. Interviewing over the phone also helps the hiring manager speak to a large number of candidates, cherry-picking the best applicants to create their shortlist for the physical interview stage.
However, this also means that the pressure to do well in these telephone interviews is high and making a good impression at this point is paramount to your success. Here are our top telephone interview techniques to help get you through to the next round.
Take it seriously
A telephone interview is not a chat, but an interview and part of the recruitment process, so be prepared and take it seriously. Be sure to research the company you’re applying to in great detail before the call. Should they ask what you know about the firm, prior research shows that you are genuinely interested in the role and contributing to the employer’s success.
The great thing about telephone interviews is that your interviewer can’t actually see you, so they won’t know if you have all your notes laid out in front of you. You may want to search through the questions most commonly asked in an interview in your field and prepare your answers using the STAR method.
Have a copy of your CV and the job description to hand so you can make comparisons between the two throughout the conversation, showing your interviewer that you are the perfect candidate for the job, and keep a notebook nearby to jot notes and questions as you think of them.
Top tip: Be careful not to read from your notes word for word, as you may give off a monotonous, automated line vibe. Use your prepared notes as inspiration, not a script.
Find a quiet place
Make sure you take the call in a quiet place, preferably at home where you can be relaxed and with all your notes to hand. Make sure you turn off the TV and other noisy devices and that all children or housemates are out of the room during the call.
If the call is via Skype, make sure you are properly dressed for the interview - smart or smart/casual is usually fine. Keep a glass of water within arm’s reach and you should also sit up straight or stand to give energy and confidence to your conversation.
Before you pick up the phone or dial out, spare a moment to take some deep breaths and smile. Once the conversation is flowing, you’ll feel more focussed and forget about your nerves. Try practice your telephone interview skills beforehand to ensure you speak clearly and at a reasonable pace throughout the call. Remember that pauses are okay in a telephone interview; if you need time to think about your answer, you can ask for a moment to reflect. If you don’t understand or didn’t hear a question properly, it is perfectly fine to ask for clarification.
Be aware of how you sound
Many believe that as much as 93% of human communication is non-verbal, and without visual cues in a telephone conversation, there is an increased emphasis placed on the tone of your voice. Make sure you sound animated and enthusiastic during your interview whilst remaining polite. Coming across as overfamiliar and speaking as though you were talking to a friend may not come over well, so aim for a professional yet positive tone.
Your interviewer will be able to tell if you are smiling when you speak so make sure to do so to show you are optimistic about the role you’re applying for.
Remember this is only round one
A telephone interview is almost always a prerequisite to a face-to-face one. So, while you should still prepare questions to ask at the end of the call, this is not the time to ask about salaries, training or start dates.
This is the screening process, so the focus of the call should be to show that you are worth interviewing in real life. If you get through to the next stage, you’ll be given the opportunity to ask everything you want to know then.
For further help and advice on your interview, contact one of the team at Resources Group, email@example.com