1. Understand Why You’re Being Asked To Do A Telephone Interview
Telephone interviews are a really useful stage for many employers. This will be more informal than a face to face interview and the employer is looking to get a rounded sense of who you are, what experience you have and what you can offer them. You should focus on conveying your enthusiasm and interest in the role and in their company. If you aren’t applying for a role where phone skills are key, then it’s unlikely you will be heavily penalised for sounding nervous or not having a polished phone voice! It’s perfectly normal to be nervous and this is something your interviewer will be expecting. Try to remember your interviewer is there to do their job, not to judge you personally.
2. Take Advantage Of The Situation
In a face to face interview you won’t have the company website at hand and it wouldn’t be professional to have a bullet point list of your most relevant skills and experience in front of you. But this isn’t a face to face interview. It makes perfect sense to make some bullet point notes (avoid directly reading paragraphs from your CV, it will be obvious and dull) and if they have specifically asked you to prepare answers to some questions that is even better. Keep your answers short, relevant and effective. Practice giving answers and record yourself if you can, so you can identify where you might need to slow down.
3. Don’t Rush
Speak clearly and be mindful to speak slowly. Have a glass of water nearby so you can take a sip when the interviewer is speaking, this should help you resist the urge to jump in and talk over them, which is something we are all guilty of doing when we are nervous. If you’re asked a tricky question that you weren’t prepared for, don’t rush to say the first thing that comes to your head. You can say ‘let me reflect on that for a moment’ and take time to think it through. If you don’t understand a question, it is far better to ask for clarification than to get it wrong and answer with something irrelevant.
4. Be In A Calm and Quiet Environment
Ensure you’ll have adequate time (leave extra time to prepare and incase the interview runs over) in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Make sure you’re somewhere with good phone signal, preferably a landline. If you’re not using it to make the call, switch off your mobile phone. Even if it is on silent, just seeing a call pop up or a text can make you tempted to check it and lose track of thought, or sound distant. Televisions, laptops, IPad’s and even books or magazines, move them out of your eye line so you can focus on the task at hand.
5. Remain Focused
Just because this isn’t as formal as a face to face interview, it doesn’t make it any less important. Get up with plenty of time to spare, have a shower and put on smart clothes. Sit at a desk and have a scan over the notes you have prepared. If it feels comfortable for you, stand up when you take the call. People often find this gives their voice more energy and enthusiasm. Answer the phone professionally, ‘Good Afternoon, Stephen Rochford speaking’ or ‘Good Afternoon, may I please speak with Claire Taylor? I am scheduled for a phone interview at 3pm this afternoon with her.’ If you can, take some notes. Remember any key information they give you and any good answers you give; this can help you in the next stage. Your mentality is the key to your success in this sense.
6. Remember That This Is An Initial Stage Interview
Finally, remember the stage of the interview and what is appropriate. When you’re asked if you have any questions avoid any about salary and start dates, especially ones about holidays and lunch hours! Instead, sensible questions can include what you should expect from the next stage of the interview, when you would be likely to hear back from them about this interview and if there is anything they would like you to explain further.
Know beforehand if you are to call the employer or if they are going to call you. It sounds obvious, but trust us, you’ll be glad you checked.