How to perform well on a Phone Interview

Use our do’s and don’ts checklist to tackle your telephone interview with confidence and get through to the next stage of the application process

Phone interviews can be difficult due to the lack of visual clues however they can be a quick and more convenient way for both you and the interviewer to start the interview process. For an employer they provide a useful insight into your verbal communication skills. If the job you’re applying for requires personality or telephone skills as much as qualifications and experience, the Interviewer will be interested in how you come across during the phone call. 

Do’s:- things to remember to do during your telephone interview

Listen. Undoubtedly the most important element to consider. Take on board all elements of their questions, and make note of anything that seems of particular importance, just in case they refer back to it later. Even if they don’t, you can use it as a cheat sheet when answering the inevitable ‘any other questions’ invitation at the end of the interview.

Your research. Just like a face-to-face interview, start by finding out as much as you can about the company. Find out about the size and structure of the company, its products and services and the markets it works in (including looking at competitor’s websites). The best place to start is the employer’s website, but also keep an eye out for news articles, which may mention plans for growth and expansion.

Have your CV to hand. It’s very likely, the Interviewer will have a copy of it too, so you may not be asked about it in detail. However, they may open the interview by asking questions about your experience. It’s also a good way to ease into the call while allowing them to find out how communicative you are.

Write down any questions you want to ask. A phone interview is a really good

opportunity to find out more about the role you’ve applied for, the company culture and opportunities for growth. And always make sure you have a pen and paper handy for note taking.

Smile. OK, so it sounds strange – but it actually works. Always try and remain smiling throughout the conversation. It helps ensure you sound upbeat. 

Other telephone interview tips: use a landline, turn your mobile phone off, have a glass of water to hand, remember to breathe.

Don’ts:- things to remember not to do during your telephone interview

Treat it differently from a face-to-face interview. Strange as it sounds, it’s a good idea to dress like a professional. Obviously, the interviewer can’t see you, but it’s harder to feel – and therefore sound – professional if you’re still sitting in your dressing gown.

Get distracted. You need to remain focused on the task at hand, something that can prove difficult, if you still have one eye on the TV. The same goes for your partner/family members. They might be being supportive, but your interview should be a two-way conversation. Having their frantic arm flapping and mouthed words of encouragement in the background will only put you off.

Eat. There is a time and a place for snacking. Five minutes before your phone interview isn’t it. You might think you’re being quiet – but chances are that you aren’t. A mumbled answer because you have your mouthful is memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. 

Interrupt. The easiest way to avoid irritating the interviewer is to let them finish their

sentence, so always allow for a gap before you begin answering. Not only will it give you time to think of a coherent response, it will also mean you don’t speak over the person you’re trying to impress. Just make sure you approach gaps with a degree of caution. There’s a difference between a courteous pause and an awkward silence…

Sound bored. Remember when we said about remaining attentive a few paragraphs ago? Well it’s kind of a big deal… Again, it may seem obvious, but when you haven’t done a telephone interview before, it’s easy to overlook. Try to sound positive, and avoid yawning or mumbling your responses. Even if you haven’t understood every single sentence, just go with it. 

Other telephone interview don’ts: chew gum, smoke, zone out, talk about yourself in the 3rd person.

Do ask questions at the end, but this is not the time for a discussion about salary, start dates or training. You may find that the telephone interviewer is working on behalf of the employer to do the initial screen of applicants and therefore is unable to answer any detailed questions about the job and company. 

Hopefully you’ll be successful and progress to the next stage, at which point you will have a chance to assess the company in more depth.

Good luck!