How to handle a telephone interview
Many graduate recruiters do their first interview over the phone. The telephone interview is a tool for the recruiter to assess whether you are a serious applicant and decide whether or not to take you further through the application process. The questions are more likely to focus more on your general competencies and skills. Your aim is to try to show your enthusiasm and commitment in a short conversation.
The positive thing about phone interviews is that they are quicker and more convenient for both you and the interviewer than arranging a preliminary meeting face-to-face. If the job you’re applying for relies as much on your personality or telephone skills as on qualifications and experience, the recruiter will be particularly interested in how you come across. However, phone interviews can be difficult because neither party can see the other, so the usual visual clues are absent.
Research and plan your telephone interview
Be prepared. It’s normal to be nervous before a telephone interview, but it will really help if you know you’ve done the groundwork. Make sure you find out as much as you can about the recruiter..
Practise before the interview
Practice makes perfect. Any experience you have of using the phone in a professional context will help, for example a temporary telesales job, research during work experience or voluntary fundraising.
Answer the phone professionally: ‘Good morning, Joe Bloggs speaking’ should do the trick. Address your interviewer as Miss, Mrs or Mr unless invited to use his or her first name.
If you can, jot down notes during the interview, or write down what you can remember about the questions and your answers immediately afterwards, while it’s still fresh. It will be a useful record to refer to when you go through to the next stage.
Telephone interview turn offs
Lots of background noise: cafes are not good places to take the interview call.
Munching and slurping: have a glass of water nearby just in case your mouth goes dry mid call, but don’t eat or drink proper while taking part in a telephone interview.
Taking other calls or responding to texts: switch off your mobile if you are using a landline; switch off your landline if you are using your mobile… or move to another room.
Multitasking: resist the urge to reply to emails, check your Facebook page, make your lunch, wash up, and so on. Focus only on the person at the other end of the line.
Being too laid back, literally: Don’t slouch on the couch; sit up straight, as it will help you feel and sound more confident and alert. Some people find taking calls standing up immediately gives energy to their conversation.