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Telephone interview top tips

This guide summarises the essential information you will need to know before, during and after a telephone interview.

Employers use telephone interviews more and more as a way to filter out candidates. Telephone interviews will often be the first stage after application; if you are successful you’ll be invited to a face-to-face interview or an assessment centre.

Pre-interview

  • Do your research. Think about why you want this particular role with this particular company and be ready to use this information.
  • Read through the person specification. Prepare examples of where you have used the skills and qualities the employer lists as essential for the role.
  • Read through the job description. Make sure you understand what the job entails. Prepare examples of relevant experience you have.
  • Check your phone. Are the ring tone and voicemail message appropriate? Make sure the battery is charged.
  • Have a pen and paper ready.
  • Prepare a suitable place to take the call – a quiet room with no noise or distractions.
  • Dress for the occasion. This may sound strange but taking the call dressed appropriately will help your mind set.
  • Treat it like a face-to-face interview. Don’t sniff, chew, eat, drink or smoke.

During interview

  • Answer the phone with a clear, confident greeting. Speak clearly, do not mumble and if you have an accent remember to slow down.
  • Use professional language. It’s an interview, not a chat - no ‘isit’, ‘innit’, ‘er, ‘um’, ‘thingy’, ‘you know what I mean’! Try not to repeat unnecessary words such as ‘actually’ or ‘like’.
  • If you miss a question, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer politely to repeat it.
  • If your mind goes blank, ask for a moment to think about the question, take a deep breath and try to focus on what they are asking.
  • Use your notes for quick reference but don’t waste time looking for things or shuffling paper.
  • At the end, make a note of when you can expect to hear from them. If they don’t tell you then ask politely.

After interview

  • Reflect on how it went. Note down your thoughts on the interview: how well you answered the questions; what you learned about the role and the company; things you wish you'd said or asked about.
  • You won’t be offered every job you go for - immediate reflections will help you prepare for the next one.
  • If you don’t hear by the time agreed, phone or email to ask politely if a decision has been made.
  • Ask for feedback. If you’re unsuccessful, phone or email the interviewer to ask how you did. This is another (sometimes painful!) way of learning and improving your interview preparation and technique.
  • Stay positive - don’t be discouraged if your first efforts are unsuccessful.