9 steps to phone interview success

9 steps to phone interview success

Phone interviews are more important than you might think. In today’s busy recruitment world, impressing the person who screens your application by phone could be the difference between making it to the next round and receiving a rejection letter. 

Phone interview success steps:

If you have a phone interview coming up, here are nine ways to help you progress to a face-to-face interview:

Treat it like a real interview 

Why? Because it is! Phone interviews are used by employers and recruiters to narrow down their pool of candidates and decide who will move forward in the process. If you want the chance to meet this employer in person, respect the recruiter, their time and the phone interview process. Manners are important.

Prepare thoroughly 

Given that this is a real interview, you should spend some time beforehand studying the job description, researching the company, and preparing your answers to possible behavioural questions. Behavioural questions require you to provide specific examples of past experiences to demonstrate your skills, so think of some recent, interesting examples that relate to the skills required for this role.  

Take the call in a quiet room

This one might sound obvious, but it’s amazing how many people are in noisy public places when recruiters call them for their interview. Go somewhere quiet, shut the door and don’t let anyone interrupt you. This will help you to think and speak clearly, as well as show respect for the caller.  

Use a reliable phone and network

Back in the day, the rule was you should never use your mobile for a phone interview. Times have changed though and nowadays this isn’t really practical. Just make sure you use a phone that is fully charged and in an area with good reception – you don’t want this call to drop out.

Pay attention to your tone

In a face-to-face interview, your facial expressions and body language convey signals about your interest and enthusiasm. In a phone interview, since the interviewer can't see you, your tone of voice becomes especially important. Make sure that you sound engaged, upbeat, and friendly.

Be ready to answer salary and availability questions

If you haven’t thought about what salary you’re looking for in this role, or how much notice you’ll need to give to your current employer, now is the time. Phone interviews are often used to screen out basic incompatibilities with these two points.

Have your resume and cover letter in front of you

The recruiter will have your application in front of them as they are conducting the phone interview. Don’t risk blanking or making something up when they start asking specifics about previous roles – know what information you have provided by keeping it in front of you. It’s also important to note that while the information they are seeking may be on your resume, it’s the way you answer that they are really interested in.

Stay focused

This call is not the time to multi-task – don’t be logged into anything else while you are being phone interviewed. Ideally, don’t be anywhere near a computer so you are not tempted to check emails or IM someone. If an email comes in while you're talking and you start even partially processing it, you will take your full attention off the conversation and the recruiter will hear that you are distracted.  

Listen carefully

Further to staying focused on the call, really take the time to listen to the recruiter’s questions. If you don’t understand or hear exactly what they have asked you, apologise and ask them to repeat or possibly rephrase the question – don’t bluff your way through an answer that may well be irrelevant. 

With phone interviews becoming more and more common in the recruitment process, it’s important to know how to use them to your advantage. Follow these tips and you’ll leave your interviewer looking forward to meeting you in person!

Follow these steps to phone interview success:

  • This is a real interview so do your research on the role, company and prepare answers to possible behavioral questions
  • Pay attention to your tone - the recruiter will pay attention to your tone in the absenbce of visual cues such as facial expressions and body language
  • Don't risk blanking or making something up - have your resume in front of you to refer to 
  • Stay focused and listen carefully to avoid sounding distracted or disinterested


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