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The Clients we deal with often use telephone interviews as a way to screen candidates to narrow down the pool of applicants who will be invited for face to face interviews. They are also used as a way to minimize the expenses involved in interviewing candidates. More importantly though telephone interviews are an excellent way of hearing a candidate in action on the phone. There are few jobs in our industry that do not involve speaking with people (be them customers, suppliers or staff) on the phone and being able to professionally handle a telephone call is key to many good employees’ success.

Be Prepared to Interview

You could be contacted for interview at any time. Quite often a voicemail message will be left for you if you are unable to answer due to being at work at the time.

Make sure your voicemail answering message is professional. If you have a jokey voicemail, re-set it to default or re-record it. Having the Managing Director of your prospective new employer call and getting your version of ‘the fresh prince of bel air’ is not a great first impression. This rule also applies to ringtones where the dialer hears music rather than a ring.

Secondly, if possible, know when they will call. Be in a quiet place where you will not be interrupted, preferably where you can be in front of a computer with the company’s website open.

Prepare for a phone interview just as you would for a face to face interview. Compile a list of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as a list of answers to typical phone interview questions. In addition, plan on being prepared for a phone conversation about your background and skills.

  • Keep your CV in clear view, so it is at your fingertips when you need to answer questions
  • Have a short list of your accomplishments available to review
  • Have a pen and paper handy for note taking
  • Turn call-waiting off so your call isn't interrupted
  • If the time isn't convenient, ask if you could talk at another time and suggest some alternatives
  • Unless you are sure your mobile phone service is going to be perfect, consider using a landline rather than your mobile phone to avoid a dropped call or static on the line

Practice Interviewing

Talking on the phone is not as easy as it seems. Have a friend or family member conduct a mock interview and record it so you can see how you sound over the phone. Ask them to point out your "ums" and "uhs" and "okays". You will be surprised how many times you use this under pressure in an interview situation. You can then practice reducing them in your conversational speech. Be sure to rehearse answers to those typical questions you'll be asked.

During the Phone Interview

  • Do not smoke, chew gum, eat, or drink
  • Do keep a glass of water handy, a dry throat ends a conversation quicker than you think
  • Smile. Smiling will project a positive image to the listener and will change the tone of your voice
  • Speak slowly and pronounce your words clearly
  • Do not interrupt the interviewer
  • Take your time. It is perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts
  • Give short answers
  • Remember your goal is to set up a face-to-face interview. After you thank the interviewer for calling, ask if it would be possible to meet them in person

After the call

Phone your recruitment consultant to give them your feedback.

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