Perfecting the telephone interview

Michelle Donohoe 18.07.2014

You have been successfully chosen for interview, Brilliant! It’s a telephone interview you say, Great! That’s much easier than meeting face to face. Now… this is where you are wrong.

Not being face to face doesn’t mean you do not need to put on the suit, prepare yourself and be ready. Here are some tops tips on how to perfect the telephone interview:


Just as you would for a face to face interview you need to do lots of prep work! Start off by thoroughly researching the company, the industry and the role. Thanks to social media you can also do some “subtle” research on the person that will be interviewing you. Looking at the job and competencies, prepare a long list of potential questions and answers and then onto roll play, answering these questions out loud! It goes without saying that you need to be clear, concise but with a friendly tone.

Put the dog away

Interfering noise be it a doggy barking, a car horn or bad mobile ring tone can all disrupt and distract from the interview. If at all possible, make sure the house is empty or that you are in an isolated room. If possible use a landline which will avoid the ‘can you hear me now’ game. No landline? Not to worry… just make sure you know where the best signal in the house is and your battery is fully charged.

Don’t forget the suit

Dress as you would for a face to face interview. You won’t feel as smart or professional if you are in your PJs. So put on the best suit in the wardrobe, sit up right at a table with some water to hand and don’t forget to smile. Rapport and pace is extremely important on the phone and smiling throughout the interview will help you sound enthusiastic and interested.

They can’t see your computer screen

One advantage of the telephone interview is that you are invisible to the client and you should use this to your advantage. With all your preparation, you can have your notes laid out in front of you. Just make sure they can’t hear the rustling of paper. With the internet open in front of you can keep an eye on their company website, culture, mission statement and/or potentially a picture of the person interviewing you.

Stick to the point

A phone interview will probably be shorter than face to face. This means you will have less time to make a good impression. Keep to the point and avoid long winded answers. If you start to go off the point you will lose your audience’s attention.

Follow up

I would advise taking notes during the phone interview, once you get off the phone you may not remember all the important points. Contact your recruiter shortly after the interview to see if they have received any feedback and then follow up with an email to the interviewer. Thank them for the opportunity and summarise what you have discussed.

When job seeking and if you are sending out a lot of CV’s it is possible to get a call at any time so make sure you are well prepared for this. If you get a phone call and it is not a good time to talk let the interviewer know that you will call them back. This will give you time to research the company and to make sure you are in a suitable location for taking the call.

The mission of the phone interview: It is important to remember the main purpose of the phone interview is to convince the interviewer to meet you in person. Get them to “love” you by being very positive, confident and polite and before you know it you will be heading into meet them face to face!

Michelle Donohoe's picture
Talent Acquisition Specialist