Telephone interviews

Telephone interviews are growing to be the most common way companies screen candidates before asking them to come in for an in-person interview. It takes a significantly reduced amount of effort on the employer’s part and ensures that the candidate does not have to get dressed up for what may end up only being a short conversation and then a goodbye.

In many respects, a telephone interview can be easier to go through than a face to face interview. With that said, you still have to play your cards right. Here are some basic things you can do that immediately give you an upper hand.

  • Invest the same amount of research you would invest for an in-person interview – It might be tempting to treat a phone interview as completely informal, but it is a good idea to research the company and anything relevant to the job itself. Many experts recommend having the job description right in front of you during the interview so you can cross-reference what the person says on the other end of the line as well as ask relevant questions when applicable.
  • Have your CV and cover letter in front of you – In addition to the job description, make sure you have any documents you sent in to the company with you, as well as anything you feel may be relevant to it (such as portfolio pieces or job descriptions of previous jobs). Your interviewer will likely have this same information in front of them and will be asking you about some of the finer details that could use some deeper explanation. If you truly customise your CVs and cover letters for each job, you don’t want to talk about something that they may not know anything about.
  • Jot down some critical points – Simply put, a phone interview is an excellent opportunity to plan your responses a little. Are there certain things you would like to focus on when talking about yourself? Great, write down some notes about them so you don’t have to sit there in silence and think about it. The interviewer will also likely ask if you have any questions, so don’t hesitate to write some down. If you aren’t asked during the interview, you can utilise your time at the end to provide any anecdotal evidence on why you would really like the opportunity to excel in the position they are offering. Provide whatever you can that sets you apart from the “I just want to earn some money” crowd.
  • Stand up, get dressed up, take yourself out of your default element – It sounds a little strange, but it is a very good idea to go about this phone interview in a way that distinctly separates it from simply sitting on the couch or a chair in front of a screen. Stand up, get dressed in office attire, do whatever is necessary that provides that very clear psychological jolt telling you that no, you’re not browsing on the internet, you’re actually holding a very important phone call.

It goes without saying, but try to avoid having a phone interview on your antique rotary phone. A high quality phone is a pretty great thing to have for situations like this. If your phone supports it, consider using headphones during the phone call so you can hear the interviewer more clearly. Nothing quite makes the experience a little unpleasant if you find yourself saying, “Pardon?” every few minutes.

Be prepared, take all necessary steps to ensure a smooth ride, and you will do alright. Always be polite and respectful, and above all always be appreciative for the opportunity. Maybe you will be invited for a face to face interview which grants you another chance to not only impress the company but prove why you are the best fit.