Telephone interviews

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  • Telephone interviews traditionally last 25 – 45 minutes.
  • A telephone interview gives the employer an insight to your suitability to the role AND an opportunity to experience your communication skills and ability to have a conversation on the telephone – a key skill in any role!
  • Telephone interviews are generally competency based. Competencies are skills, such as communication, problem solving, team work, organisation etc.
  • The questions will be targeted on the skills needed to do the job, so remember to review the job description.
  • Each candidate will be asked the same set of questions, although the Recruiter / Hiring Manager may ask additional follow up questions based on your answers if they need clarity or want to find out more. This is helpful for candidates as it provides a chance to offer additional useful evidence related to the skill area.

Before the telephone interview

Research preparation: Job Description

  • Know the job description (JD). Thoroughly read the JD and highlight key parts – including the skills that the employer is looking for from candidates.
  • Prepare examples of your experiences that evidence that you have the skills on the job description.
  • Have two examples of each skill listed. The employer may ask for another example if they feel your first example hasn’t been comprehensive enough to fully demonstrate the skill.
  • Focus not just on the ‘how’ part in your example, but also on the outcome/impact – how did the use of that skill enable a great outcome/result.


Research preparation: Employer website

  • Thoroughly research the employer. The more you know about and understand the employer, the better targeted your responses will be to the interview questions.
  • Review their website and look at the following sections to gain an insight into the employer, key development and culture:
    • Values / Culture section
    • News and press section
    • Careers/working here section
  • Follow the employer on LinkedIn and other social media. You will be able to access latest news, updates and insights that could be useful in an interview.


Practical preparation

  • Check the time! Be ready five minutes before to answer the phone.
  • Be somewhere quiet, with good network reception. Check this in advance.
  • Tell the people you live with not to come into the room or to make noise outside the room. You do not want to be distracted.
  • Set yourself up in advance. Make sure you are at a desk and your phone is fully charged.
  • Dress smartly. Even though the employer can’t see you, it is helpful to make sure you are in a ‘professional mindset’.
  • Sit up straight. It really does makes a big difference to your voice projection. Some people prefer to stand – it can help energise!
  • Read the paper/listen to the news in the few days before the interview. You may be asked about a current news story.

On the day of the telephone interview

  • Have in front of you:
    • A note book and pen.
    • A drink of water.
    • Key facts about the company you have discovered that could be useful to have noted – you may be asked what you have found out about the organisation.
    • The job description (JD).
    • Examples of your experiences that correlate to the skills on the JD.
    • Your CV – you could be asked questions on your CV.
    • A list of questions to ask the interviewer at the end of the interview.
  • Answer the phone professionally – first impressions count.
  • Speak slowly. The interviewers will be taking notes – make their job easier by speaking at a steady pace. The more they can hear of your response, and have time to make note, the better it is for you.
  • Give the interviewer sufficient time to complete the question before you respond. Leave a couple of seconds at the end of the question to make sure they have finished before you respond.
  • If you need to, ask them to repeat or clarify the question. You will never be marked down for gaining clarification.

At the end of the interview

  • Confirm the next step – will it lead to a video interview/virtual assessment centre?
  • Find out who to contact if you require further information after the interview.
  • Thank the interviewers for their time, and finish off with saying ‘I look forward to hearing from you’.
  • Make sure you have disconnected the call properly.
  • Send a thank you follow up email after the telephone call.

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