More than half of employers interview by telephone, so how should you prepare?

High Fliers Research Limited found that more than half of employers interviewed candidates by telephone during the 2012 recruitment round, either as part of the pre-screening process or the first-round interview.

So what is a telephone interview and how should you prepare?

Employers are ever increasingly using telephone interviews as a more cost-effective alternative to the more traditional face-to-face format, especially as part of the early stages of a recruitment process. But if you’ve never had one before, you may be wondering what exactly a telephone interview is and how you should prepare.

Well, a telephone interview is an interview, but over the phone. By this I mean, the interviewer will still be making assessments based on how you answer the questions and your demeanour, just as they would in a face-to-face interview. It’s just as important that you make a good first impression…you’ll just have to do so without relying on that winning smile!

As with any interview, preparation is important, and a lot of the tips are general:

You – be prepared to answer questions on anything you’ve written in your CV, covering letter or application form.

The job – make sure that you’ve familiarised yourself with the job description, know what skills the employer is looking for and emphasise them in your answers.

The organisation – do your research beforehand and be prepared to answer the “So, what do you know about us?” question.

Then there are a few tips specific to telephone interviews:

Location – try to find somewhere quiet, where you won’t be disturbed, to have the interview. Sounds obvious, but also make sure that you have a good phone connection here, especially if you’re using a mobile.

Memory aids – take advantage of the fact that you can use the internet and notes in a telephone interview. But use with caution. Used well, these aids will help to jog your memory and make your answers sound more seamless and informed. However, long pauses while you rifle through papers or quickly google the company will not make a good impression – remember that the interviewer isn’t daft and will recognise a lack of preparation.

Just because they can’t see you… – a couple of tips, that may sound a tad bizarre, are to dress smartly and smile while you speak. Even though the interviewer can’t see you, if you’re feeling bright and confident, this will come across in your voice. Don’t be afraid of silence, the lack of non-verbal communication in a telephone interview can make pausing to collect your thoughts all the more daunting. But well-thought responses, with a few pauses, will come across much better than rushed answers.

Practice – this is the best way to pick up on any aspects of your interview technique that you may need to work on. The volume, speed and clarity of your speech are important in any interview but much more so in a telephone interview. Remember you can book a practice telephone interview with one of our careers consultants, which should help you iron out any kinks and hopefully leave you feeling calmer and help you to perform better on the day.


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