8 Steps To A Successful Telephone Interview
Initial interviews by telephone are now far more common than they used to be. It's an inexpensive way to screen candidates in the initial stages of a recruitment campaign but, an interview is still an interview, even if it isn’t face to face. You need to be as prepared and well presented as you would be for a conventional interview so here are some useful tips to help you prepare.
- Prepare and research.
Do your research about the company, the hiring manager, the company’s products and services and the markets it works in. A phone interview is a great opportunity to find out more about the role you’ve applied for, the company culture and opportunities for growth. Make sure you have a pen and paper handy for note taking as it will give you the opportunity to consider further questions based on your notes, if offered a face to face interview.
- Prepare your surroundings.
Pick a quiet room or place to interview, don’t be tempted to use your car where you are not in control of the surroundings around you. Have a glass of water to hand. If you are interviewing at home with the possibility of others being there or, if you have pets, be sure to let everyone in the house know ahead of time that you will be in an interview whilst securing any animals away from your interview space. Nothing is less professional than having to tell your potential employer to hang on while you shoo your dog away.
- Avoid a "Can you hear me now?" situation.
Nothing is more frustrating than only catching every other word a person is saying, so if using a mobile be sure to check the audio ahead of time to make sure you can both hear and be heard without difficulty.
- Close programs on your computer and if using a landline, put your mobile on silent.
Getting notifications during your interview is distracting and unprofessional. Before your interview, make sure all your devices are on silent.
- Be charged and connected.
If possible, connect your mobile to a charger, if you can’t be confident of connectivity in your own home, consider finding somewhere else more suitable to do the interview from. Make sure your device is either fully charged and/or connected to mains to avoid an embarrassing power loss shut down.
- Do not feel the need to talk through silences.
It is very tempting to keep talking on the telephone to avoid any awkward gaps but do stop to make sure your interviewer is engaged in what you are saying. It maybe they are considering your previous answer before asking the next question or taking notes themselves. Being aware of the interest level of your interviewer is crucial in a telephone interview. The tricky thing with telephone interviews is that it is difficult to judge reactions in the same way you can when sat opposite someone. As you cannot see someone’s reaction to your answer or see their body language don’t be afraid to ask, “is that what you needed to know” or “do you want me to go into more detail?”
- Don’t interrupt or “waffle”.
An easy way to annoy an interviewer is to interrupt or not let them finish their question, so always take time to leave a gap after the question to ensure the interviewer has finished and you are not accidently talking over them (this also gives you time to prepare your answer). A common mistake with telephone interviews is people start to “waffle” – it’s easy to do but it is not your job to fill the silences, feel comfortable to stop talking when you have made your point.
- Use notes.
Don't be afraid to have notes to hand or a copy of your CV when you interview. A benefit of having a telephone interview is that you can have these in front of you so that you don't have to memorize everything you want to mention. However, don't rely too much on your notes. Use them as quick reminders, not a script. Relying too heavily on them can cause awkward pauses during your interview so be sure to use them sparingly. Use bullet points as prompts rather than long paragraphs of text.