There aren’t many people out there who actually enjoy face-to-face interviews. In fact, we’re not sure there are any. So, once you’ve wowed a potential employer with your CV, most of us would be delighted to be told that the next stage of the process is a telephone interview. But you’re not off the hook yet. While a telephone interview might be less daunting, you still need to prepare properly to make sure you stand out.
Why are telephone interviews used?
Telephone interviews are becoming an increasingly common part of the modern recruitment process. Many HR departments and hiring managers start the interview process with a phone call to make a quick assessment of a candidate before inviting them to a face-to-face interview. In other cases, with many modern recruits willing to relocate for roles, telephone interviews can be a more convenient way to conduct interviews with candidates in other parts of the country and even overseas.
It’s usually the case that a telephone interview is scheduled well before the actual call, usually by email. However, we have also known some employers to call candidates for a quick chat out of the blue. Whether you’re expecting the call or not, these are our top tips to help you nail that interview.
1. Bin the ‘funny’ voicemail
You might love your witty voicemail message, but there’s a good chance a prospective employer will not. You’re better off keeping it professional just in case you receive a call out of the blue.
2. Answer calls in the right way
The beauty of modern technology is that you often know who is calling before you answer the phone. However, if you receive a call from an unknown number after applying for a new role then your usual greeting of “Yo, what’s hanging dog” is probably not the best approach. Instead, if the number is unfamiliar you should always answer professionally.
3. Test your tech
Many telephone interviews will also involve an element of tech, whether it’s a conference call with a number of interviewers or a video chat on Skype. A few days before the interview you should make sure all your tech is working as it should be. This will give you enough time to iron out any problems. You should also think about the background and lighting, and choose a quiet, comfortable and private space so you can give the interview your full attention.
4. Know who you’re talking to
The email you receive confirming the call should provide all the details you need, including the time, the date and who you will be talking to. Do some research into the interviewer if you can. Finding out their job role may give you some idea of the slant their questions will take and, if nothing else, it will help you remember their name.
5. Research the company
When you’re firing off multiple applications, it can be easy to forget the details of the companies you have applied to. You should familiarise yourself with the company website and relevant social media pages and prepare at least one question you can ask during the interview.
6. Review your CV and application
Your CV and job application will form the basis of the employer’s questions, so make sure you know them both inside out. You should be prepared to answer any questions about your work history, educational background and the experience and skills you have picked up along the way. You should also have another look at the job description to familiarise yourself with exactly what the job involves.
7. Prep for the most common interview questions
You should expect the same sort of questions you’d be asked in a face-to-face interview. Common interview questions include:
- Why do you want the role?
- Why do you want to work for the company?
- What is your greatest achievement?
- Tell me about a challenge you have faced and how you solved it
- Tell me about a time you led or worked as part of a team
- Where do you want to be in five years?
- Why should we hire you?
8. Telephone interview mistakes to avoid
One of the most common mistakes people make is talking too much. As you can’t see the interviewer’s face, it can be tricky to gauge how much they want you to say, which can lead to waffle. You should not worry about filling any silences. Instead, be comfortable enough to stop talking when you have made your point.
Another mistake people make is to think that a telephone interview is less formal, when really it’s not. You should treat it exactly the same as a face-to-face interview. That means keeping your language professional and dressing smartly for video calls.
How can we help?