Preparation is the secret to effective telephone interviews

A phone interview is often the only means by which you’ll get that interview. But don’t be lulled into thinking it will be easier than an in-person interview. Here are some tips for doing it right.
  • Be ready for the interview
Be awake and ready to answer within 3 rings. Don’t pop out for 2 minutes – sods law will dictate that is when the call comes through. Do your research upfront, you can’t expect someone to invest in you if you have not invested in yourself.
If you know when the call is coming, make sure your environment is devoid of any distractions, like barking dogs, crying babies or mechanical background noises.
  •  Answer the phone correctly
Never a weak hello and silence. Say your name clearly and then add something that is you “How can I help you” is fine “What can I do for you today” a bit “west coast” but avoid anything flippant. “Hi, I’m John Smith – marketing genius.”  If you are being called at your place of work use that salutation but get it right. “ XYZ Pizza – Jane Smith speaking – how may I help you” or similar. If it is not convenient to talk, say so directly and offer a time to call back and be ready to take a number.  Make sure you do call back.
  • Have the right tools handy
Have your CV in front of you, as well as a list of questions you would like to ask the interviewer. Sometimes in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to forget things you want to ask. Be patient any good interviewer will give you time to ask questions but remember they want to establish information themselves before doing so.
  • Check your demeanour
Listen. On the phone you have one ear and one mouth. Don’t let your mouth run away with itself.
It’s natural to be nervous, but try to slow down when you speak so that what you have to say is understandable. Also answer the question that was asked – listen. Also, you won’t have the benefit of body language cues to help interpret your meaning, so try not to make jokes. They can be easily misconstrued.
  • Remain calm and patient during silences
Remember that the interviewer will pause now and then to take notes on what you’re saying, so silences should be expected. Don’t nervously try to fill the void with small talk.
  • Create a cheat sheet
Create your own. It is good practice.
Think – what would the interviewer want to know about me?
Write the question down.
Create a model answer and memorise it and be prepared for the follow up question.
  • Rope in a friend or relative
If this interview is important to you, then practice.
Conduct some dummy interviews.
As with any interview preparation can greatly improve the impression you make.
Like most things in life it is 80% preparation, 15% participation and 5% inspiration.
We can’t help you with the 5%
Chris Slay of European Recruitment Agency conducts telephone interviews across the world and added his three major no goes as well as the advice above:
  1. Candidates not being available in a one hour time slot for an interview.
  2. Lack of preparation by the candidate, when simple use of the internet is available.
  3. Meaningless candidate questions caused by failure to have read and understood already available material. 
 And here is the most valuable tip of all:
Try to include one memorable fact, question, statement about you or the interviewer during the interview that makes you stand out from the crowd.


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