Careers advice: telephone interviews

Written by: Planning staff
Published on: 21 Feb 2014

Applications for job vacancies are increasing so phone interviews are an easier way to deal with demand before too much time is invested for meeting every candidate.

Candidates need to treat a phone interview like it is the real thing. This way you are always going to be prepared for a wide variety of questions. Everyone has their own style for interviewing candidates, so you may be asked standard questions about your experience, but there might be some more challenging questions as well.

A phone interview is not going to be preferred by everyone, as some people find speaking over the phone uncomfortable and can come across differently to a meeting in person. There is also the reverse of this, where interview nerves show through more when candidates attend an interview in person.

Here are some tips to help you on your way to securing a face to face interview.

1 - Treat the phone call like an interview

Once you have submitted your application, there is a chance that the employer could call you at any time without scheduling a phone call. It is worth preparing yourself for this eventuality.

As an example, if it turns out you are in the pub and there are rowdy people and music in the background, let the call run to voicemail and call back as soon as you have a chance to speak in a more appropriate environment.

Also, have some questions prepared to ask the interviewer about the job, company, career development etc.

However, such unscheduled phone calls are rare, and most people will be courteous and ask first if the timing is ok.

2 - Enthusiasm

As the interviewer will not be able to see your expressions and body language, you will have to convey those emotions via your voice. So speak with confidence and energy and be conscious of your tone throughout the conversation.

3 - Elocution

When you are speaking, try to remain positive and refrain from using phrases that start with "I can’t..." or "I don’t...". If necessary practice answering questions so you eliminate the use of stutters or "...errs" and "umms...".

4 - Mobile Signal

Be aware of the location where the signal strength is best for a phone call so the line is not disrupted or cut off. If possible use a land line rather than your mobile.

5 - Next Steps

As with any type of interview, once it has finished make sure you and the interviewer both have a clear understanding of what the next step is. If the interviewer does not offer this information, make sure you ask - it reinforces the impression of your desire for the role.

A nice touch is to follow up the conversation with an email thanking the interviewer for their time.