Telephone interviews are a common way employers screen potential candidates before arranging a face to face interview. As recruiters, we can't stress enough the importance of telephone interviews and in a digital world of emails and online application forms, it is important you are ready for a phone interview at a moment's notice. You never know when your chance to make a first impression will come, either with a recruiter or a potential employer calling to ask if you have a few minutes to talk.
Here are our top tips for making your next phone interview a success.
1. Be Prepared to Interview
Treat the phone interview seriously, just as you would a face-to-face interview.
A phone interview seems so informal on the surface that it can be easy to fall into the trap of "phoning it in" - i.e., not preparing for it as well as you would for an in-person interview. Don't get caught with your guard down. Be sure to research the company, study the job description, and practice your responses to anticipated questions, just as you would for any other interview.
2. Make a crib sheet
Jot down a few notes about the most critical points you want to make in your interview. Are there certain skills and experiences you want to emphasise? Do you have certain interests or passions you want your interviewer(s) to know about and understand? Be sure these pieces of information appear on your crib sheet. Then touch on them during the interview, even if your only chance to do so is at the end of the session when the interviewer asks you if you have any questions or anything to add.
3. Get a high-quality phone
This isn't the time to use a mobile phone that cuts in and out, or a cheaply made phone that makes it difficult for you and your interviewer(s) to hear and understand each other.
4. Put yourself in the Moment
Again, there's a psychological, frame of mind aspect to consider here. But on a more tangible level, research has shown that you project yourself better when you're standing up, and you'll feel more knowledgeable and confident. You should also find a comfortable spot free from distraction and if you need to, consider dressing up for your phone interview to help put yourself in the right frame of mind.
5. Have your CV and cover letter in front of you
You will almost certainly be asked about some of the information that appears on these documents. You might also want to have in front of you any supporting materials that relates to information in your CV or cover letter, like documents you've designed or a written portfolio of your various projects, or the written job description from your past positions.
6. Don't forget to Follow-up
Be sure to take notes during the interview; write down what you were asked and how you answered, that way if you get the chance for a face to face interview, you already know what has been asked and how you answered.
And importantly, always remember to say 'thank you' and if you know their email address, follow up with a thank you note which reinforces your interest in the job.