Telephone interviews have become more and more prevalent as companies see it as a low-cost and quick method for performing screening and early round interviews. Telephone interviews are particularly common in the temporary or contracting areas where companies look to make quick decisions to keep projects/work schedules on time, or as the first in a series of interviews for a full time position. While a face to face interview is tough, people often find phone interviews even more difficult – It can be hard to make a good first impression to someone you can’t see.
Fortunately, telephone interviews don’t need to be all that hard, and you can even turn the limitations to your advantage.
Telephone interviews benefits:
- You can have notes to hand that you can be used to prompt if needed. Be sure to keep notes brief, ideally in bullet points that can be easily read.
- You can’t get lost or held up in traffic travelling to the interview.
- Telephone interviews can be taken on a break during work with no need to use holidays, or take sick days, to attend interviews.
Preparing for a phone interview follows many of the steps required for a face to face interview – do your research on the company and industry, and ensure that you have your examples of experience all lined up. In addition to all the usual research, here are a few tips for doing the perfect telephone interview:
1) Make Sure You Have a Space To Interview
Use your landline if you have one, or if not, make sure you have a clear signal on your (fully charged) mobile. You can’t be blamed for a bad connection, but it would create a negative atmosphere and increases the risk of miscommunication.
You should also shut out distractions and possible sources of interruption, find a quiet room where you can be sure you will not be disturbed. Do not take a call in the corridor of your workplace. If at home, feed the dog beforehand!
2) It is OK to ask Questions
It can be hard to tell how you’re doing in a phone interview. Face to face, you can use visual cues to gauge an interviewers response, over the phone you have very little to rely on. Remember that there can be silences for many reasons – the interviewer may think that you are not finished your answer, they could be taking notes etc.
You can get around this uncertainty by asking – “Was that what you were looking for?” or “Should I go on?” While you might not normally ask these questions when sitting across a table from someone, it could really help both you and the interviewer in ensuring every answer you give is just right.
3) Look the Part
Dress as if you are attending a face to face interview. Although your interviewer will not be able to tell that you are in bed at 2.00pm in the day, it is a good idea to dress smartly as this will have a positive effect psychologically.
4) Be Professional
Not only is it important to dress like you would if you were in a face to face interview, you should treat the entire experience as if you were doing it in person – smile when you speak. Believe it or not it can be heard in your voice and does have a positive effect.
The key to all interviews is preparation. Do you research, go in with the right frame of mind and try to relax. You already know you’re the best person for the job; all you need to do is tell the interviewer.
Ready for your next role?
This blog was originally published in 2014. The post has since been updated and republished.