Top 7 Tips For Acing A Phone Interview

Telephone interviews often get a mixed bag of reactions from our undergraduates. Some are relieved not to have to meet face to face for the first stage, some are unsure of what will be expected of them and how formal they should behave and some even descend into panic over their phone voice! There really is no reason to stress about phone interviews, check out our top 7 tips for making a great impression below...

1. Understand Why You’re Being Asked To Do A Telephone Interview

Telephone interviews are a really useful stage for many graduate employers. This will be more informal than a face to face interview and as such the employer is looking to get a rounded sense of who you are, what experience you have and what you can offer them. You should focus on conveying your enthusiasm and interest in the role and in their company. If you aren’t applying for a role where phone skills are key, then it’s unlikely you will be heavily penalized for sounding nervous or not having a polished phone voice! It’s perfectly normal to be nervous and this is something your interviewer will be expecting. Try to remember your interviewer is there to do their job, not to judge you personally.

2. Take Advantage Of The Situation

In a face to face interview you won’t have the company website at hand and it wouldn’t be professional to have a bullet point list of your most relevant skills and experience in front of you. But this isn’t a face to face interview. It makes perfect sense to make some bullet point notes (avoid directly reading paragraphs from your CV, it will be obvious and dull) and if they have specifically asked you to prepare answers to some questions that is even better. Keep your answers short, relevant and effective. Practice giving answers and record yourself if you can so you can identify where you might need to slow down.

3. Don’t Rush

Younger generations particularly have a tendency to rush phone calls so they can get off the phone! Don’t rush. Speak clearly and be mindful to speak slowly. Have a glass of water nearby so you can take a sip when the interviewer is speaking, this should help you resist the urge to jump in and talk over them, which is something we are all guilty of doing when we are nervous. If you’re asked a tricky question that you weren’t prepared for, don’t rush to say the first thing that comes to your head. You can say ‘let me reflect on that for a moment’ and take time to think it through. If you don’t understand a question, it is far better to ask for clarification than to get it wrong and answer with something irrelevant.

4. Be In A Calm and Quiet Environment

Ensure you’ll have adequate time (leave extra time to prepare and incase the interview runs over) in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Do not be sat on the bus! Make sure you’re somewhere with good phone signal, preferably a landline. If you’re not using it to make the call, switch off your mobile phone. Even if it is on silent, just seeing a call pop up or a text can make you tempted to check it and lose track of thought, or sound distant. Televisions, laptops, IPad’s and even books or magazines, move them out of your eye line so you can focus on the task at hand.

5. Remain Focused

Just because this isn’t as formal as a face to face interview, it doesn’t make it any less important. Get up with plenty of time to spare, have a shower and put on smart clothes. Sit at a desk and have a scan over the notes you have prepared. If it feels comfortable for you, stand up when you take the call. People often find this gives their voice more energy and enthusiasm. Answer the phone professionally, ‘Good Afternoon, Sophie Chadwick speaking’ or ‘Good Afternoon, may I please speak with Jean Cloe? I am scheduled for a phone interview at 2pm this afternoon with her.’ If you can, take some notes. Remember any key information they give you and any good answers you give; this can help you in the next stage. Your mentality is the key to your success in this sense.

6. Remember That This Is An Initial Stage Interview

Finally, remember the stage of the interview and what is appropriate. When you’re asked if you have any questions avoid any about salary and start dates, especially ones about holidays and lunch hours! Instead, sensible questions can include what you should expect from the next stage of the interview, when you would be likely to hear back from them about this interview and if there is anything they would like you to explain further. 

Bonus Tip:

Know beforehand if you are to call the employer or if they are going to call you. It sounds obvious, but trust us, you’ll be glad you checked.

Written by Sophie Chadwick