Telephone Interview Tips
Buckle up, this is an important one!
Now when it comes to interviews, we do a lot of face-to-face appointments and we are constantly seeing new faces and meeting people. But sometimes, it’s just not logistically possible. This is where your phone interview may make an appearance.
The best part about a phone interview is they are more convenient than a face-to-face meeting. This has been a great tool for us as we are able to get a good feel for the applicant and what they are about. We’ve found that this will set apart who is serious about the job they are applying for and who to take further to the next steps. The questions we ask you will more than likely be a test of your general competence and your skills. Your main objective here is to sell yourself! Show you’re enthusiastic and commit to a short conversation.
If the job that you’re applying for relies on your telephone skills or how your personality comes across to new people, we may be testing you on this! If you put on your CV that you have heaps of telephone experience and that you’re a confident speaker, we need to be able to see this!
Considering this, we thought we’d put together a few tips and tricks to get you through the next stages of the application process.
Do your research and plan for your interview. You’d think this was a given after the amount we harp on about it, but no, not everyone thinks to prepare for what they are potentially going to be asked. It’s normal to be nervous for an interview, even phone interviews, but it can be a huge relief to know you have done the groundwork and got your ducks in order. As we always say, do as much background research as you can! Read the person specifications and the job description in detail and make sure your skills match what we are looking for.
You’ve read the job description and you know everything there is to know. So you’re going to have questions, right? Write. These. Down! We cannot stress this enough! How often do you prep questions to ask a potential employer and go blank with sheer nerves the moment you walk through the door? Often I bet! Write your questions down. Employers like questions because it shows your interest and determination for the company.
Try to practice
Again, this goes for both telephone and face-to-face interviews. Practice makes perfect! If you already have experience using the phone in a professional capacity that will help. If not, that’s absolutely fine too! We don’t expect everyone to be experts, but just being able to answer the questions and speak clearly is a very good start.
Prepare a quiet environment
Again, you may think this is a given, but I’ve lost count of the amount of phone interviews we take with people who have the TV blaring, or are stood at a busy bus stop in the middle of town. We appreciate this cannot always be helped, but where you can, control your environment. Whether that means asking your housemates to leave the room, shutting the dog in the garden, or just taking yourself off to a quiet place, do what you can to eliminate the interruptions! This will help you far more than it will help us.
Write things down!
Once you have got yourself prepared, grab a pen and paper! Take some notes to help you remember the questions you were asked and how you responded. This isn’t necessary of course, and they don’t need to be word for word, but sometimes you can lose track of where you are, and little reminder notes can keep you focussed. This is will be useful when you get invited to the next stage of the process. You can use your strongest answers and elaborate on them.
Before your call, focus your energy on staying calm. Take a deep breath, focus your thoughts and smile! I know, I get it, we can’t see you, so why would you smile, right? Well, we can hear it in your voice! If you sound enthusiastic and upbeat we are more likely to invite you back! Plus, if you’re calm and relaxed you’ll be more focused on your interview so your responses will generally be stronger.
If you’ve got this far, you’ll know we’ve spoken about this already, but that’s because this is so important! When you’re asked a difficult question, pause, take a moment, and really think about your answer. We would rather you pause and figure out an answer than try and fluff your way through it. This is a great way of showing us that you can think on your feet and overcome a tricky situation. You can always follow up with something like ‘let me take a second to think about that’. We understand that it’s not always possible to have a structured answer to every single question. It’s okay to ask for the question to be worded in a different way if you don’t fully understand.
In addition to this, be aware of the speed in which you’re speaking. Often when you’re nervous you can run away with yourself start to ramble quickly. If you feel yourself getting stressed, pause and start again. Slow your pace and think about what you’re saying.
We aren’t robots, we want you to feel comfortable talking to us, but also remember you’re talking to your potential boss so don’t let the guard down too much. Be friendly and enthusiastic but don’t act overly familiar with your interviewer. Listen carefully and respectfully. Think about your opening line when answering the call – we appreciate that not everyone answers the phone in a formal way, so a simple ‘Hello, [name] speaking’ will be more than sufficient. You can then go on to ask how they are if you feel comfortable to but remember ‘hiya, you alright?’ isn’t going to cut it!
It’s not very likely that you will have to call them when you have a phone interview, but in the instance that you do, remember to be precise. Calling up with ‘Hi, Is Susan there’ isn’t very professional. Bear in mind it’s unlike it will be your interviewer directly that is answering the phone, so something along the lines of ‘Hello, please may I speak to _____, I have a phone interview with them at ____ time’ is good because the person taking the message will know what’s going on. Be clear with your information so people don’t have to drag it out of you!
So, lets do an overview of the biggest phone interview no no’s!
- Too much background noise – Café’s busy areas and bus stops aren’t good places to take calls.
- Mouth noises – Of course, have a drink nearby in case your mouth goes dry, but please avoid eating your full lunch or gulping a big drink while you’re mid-way through a call, it’s both distracting and rude!
- Social distraction – If you’re taking the call on a landline, turn off your mobile, if you’re taking the call on your mobile, take the landline out of the equation. Ask you housemates/family/spouse to leave the room. No one likes to have someone having 2 conversations at once.
- Multitasking: Again, a big no no! Please don’t take other calls, respond to texts, emails or other while you’re in your interview. Try to focus all your attention on the person conducting the interview. This goes for tiding the house, making your lunch, walking the dog etc too.