Telephone interviews have become more and more popular with some clients, particularly those who slot in recruitment to their other busy work schedule. They are not just used in situations where the job seeker or employer is relocating. They are also invaluable in circumstances where a Manager travels a lot and is hard to pin down from one day to the next. A swift telephone interview can increase an applicants “buy in” to the company. They can also be a great way to quickly filter through and create a small shortlist , or address any immediate questions about an applicants suitability.
Unfortunately some job seekers don’t take them seriously and their approach to telephone interviews is rather nonchalant. They don’t view the employer as serious as one who commits to spending the time meeting an applicant face to face at the first stage. This is disappointing considering the various reasons why a telephone interview is the best first option.
If you are ever asked to attend a telephone interview, think twice before you presume or doubt the commitment of what could be a fantastic future employer. Although it is always preferable to meet face to face for a first round interview, telephone interviews should not be considered second rate and should be taken just as seriously. It is not just about proving yourself, but should also give job seekers the opportunity to ask as many questions and find out more about the role.
To help you on your way here are some top tips.
Research the company , the role and the interviewer before the interview
This means look at the website, news articles, information from the recruitment consultant, social media updates , blogs and make sure you understand what they do , or if anything interesting catches your eye about what they do. What is happening in the business, can you find any information from employees about working there?
Look at the job description. What are the skills they are looking for? Do you understand the role? Can you provide examples of where you have applied those skills? What do you like about the sound of the role?
Consider who is conducting the telephone interview. Is it the Line manager? In this case you will be able to find out more about the day to day role and culture or team
Is it the Human resources manager? They generally have a slightly different angle and look at your overall fit for the role and company and may not be able to talk so much about details of day to day responsibilities.
Choose the right setting
It goes without saying, choose a quiet place. Find out how long the telephone interview will be, if possible use a landline or turn off your call waiting on your mobile phone, find a quiet room, not a street corner in your lunch break.
Make sure there are no distractions (e.g. children running round at home, sitting in a bisy coffee bar)
The right setting will enable you to focus more clearly on the actual interview and listen to the questions.
Prepare for questions they may ask, and prepare questions to ask depending on who is interviewing
What do you like about the role? What are you looking for? Does this match what they offer? Why do you want to leave?
The questions may be competency based (see our feature on competency based questions for tips)
Ask them questions and prepare a few, not just about money and hours (never in first interview) but what they are looking for, why they are hiring, what challenges of role might be
Be aware of how you sound
They may not see you but the way you come across on the phone is important. Present yourself well, use your tone to convey enthusiasm, if it makes you more alert, stand up! They may not see you but it will make a difference on the way you come across.
Take notes if you can, always helpful as this may be way to summarise or review what they said
Close the interview : let them know what you think about the role and them if you are keen and do ask them what the next stage is in the process. Ask them if they have any reservations about your application and if they do, respond to them. This may be your only chance.
Finally take it seriously, you may be required to work on the phone a lot in your new job and this might be a test to see how you come across.