How to ace phone interviews

Written by Penney Gordon-Lanes, Careers Consultant at the Careers Service

In the digital age, many employers are using technology to support their recruitment. Digital applications such as Zoom, Skype and FaceTime are commonly used by employers. However, many still prefer to conduct interviews by phone, often before being invited to an assessment centre, and face-to-face or virtual interview.

Don’t underestimate the skill necessary for phone interviews! This is by no means a casual conversation; this is indeed a stage in the recruitment process that you need to succeed in. Here are some things for you to consider when approaching telephone interviews.

Before the interview

Prepare

Research the company and role; make a series of notes that you can refer to during the interview. Create a prompt sheet comprised of two columns. On one side list the skills, qualities, knowledge and experience that the employer is looking for. In the second column list your evidence. Think of solid examples that you can use that demonstrate you have what they are looking for.

Anticipate

Consider questions that you will be asked as part of the interview. You may be asked questions which require you to give examples of when you have overcome a challenge or worked as part of a team. You may also have the opportunity to ask the interviewer questions, so think about what you want to know about the role, the development opportunities and more.

Set the scene

You can control where the phone interview takes place. Choose somewhere that is quiet with no risk of being interrupted. Importantly, make sure your phone is fully charged. You can wear whatever you want; the interviewer can’t see. Although, some people choose to dress in professional attire to help give confidence and change their posture. Have a glass of water on hand in case you get a dry mouth.

During the interview

Listen

Actively listen to the employer and make notes. Leave a short pause before answering a question (in case the interviewer has not finished).

Take notes

There will be a lot to remember and you may forget what you have already said and what you have been asked.

Speaking

Clearly and with confidence. Try not to rush your answers and look to your prompt sheet if needed. Try to avoid hesitation markers like “um” and “er” where possible – avoiding these will convey more confidence to the interviewer.

Tone of voice

Smiling can change your tone of voice and project positivity.

Answering questions

Use the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action and Result).

Ending the interview

Thank the interviewer for their time and ask what the next stage of the process is and when you are likely to find out the outcome. For further advice on preparing for interviews, check out our guide on interview preparation.

Applications and interviews

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