Telephone interviews can be a daunting prospect. It’s a lot harder to get your point across and gauge reactions when you’re not face to face. On top of that they can be sprung at you when you’re relaxing in front of Bargain Hunt!
They can range from an informal chat with a recruitment agent to a full blown interview with the employer. Whatever your specific situation we’ve put together some tips that will hopefully help.
Inform other people in your house – If the recruiter is likely to ring you on the landline it’s important other people in your house know you’re expecting an important call. Even if the call is going to come through on your mobile, you should probably let them know so they don’t complain loudly when you shoo them out of the room.
Be available – You might be tempted to put telephone interviews off until the perfect time, while it is wise to be prepared you need to balance that with the fact that the recruiter is likely to be going through a list of candidates. They might be happy with their selection before they get a chance to get back to you. Don’t be afraid to ask them to wait a few seconds while you find a quiet room and get your CV and other essentials ready. If you really can’t talk at that moment arrange a specific time to call them back or have them call you, make sure this is at the soonest possible opportunity.
Find somewhere quiet with good signal – Nothing is going to mess up your interview more than a fading signal or road works in the background.
Be prepared – Have your CV, any applications forms you’ve filled in for the job and a pen and paper ready for taking notes. If you know that an important call is coming it might be wise to keep this stuff by the phone. A glass of water is also a good idea in case the interview drags on and you start losing your voice.
Speak slowly, carefully and stick to the point – When we’re nervous we tend to speak very quickly and garble our words, this is going to put the interviewer off, so take deep breaths and don’t be afraid to pause to think about questions – it is ok to say ‘let me think about that’. Also be careful not to talk too much, stick to the point.
Dress smart – This might seem odd but many professionals stick to this rule religiously. Dressing smart will put you in the right frame of mind and help you stay focused.
Practice – You can either do this on the phone to friends or family or just pretend there is someone on the other line. Practice what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it and even what position you’re going to stand/sit. Lots of people find standing and walking around injects energy into the conversation, certainly sitting up straight as apposed to lying down or slouching will make you sound and feel more alert. The advantage to doing this with family and friends is that they can give you feedback.
Follow standard interview techniques – A telephone interview is still an interview and standard interview techniques apply. So make sure you do your research and prepare answers to common questions just as you would for a face to face interview.
Reflect the interviewers attitude – Different interviewers will have different views on what they want from a candidate in terms of attitude. If your interviewer is very formal and to the point then that’s how you should be – leave the chit chat behind completely. If your interviewer is chatty and informal then don’t be afraid to reflect that and try and build a rapport. Although do be careful not to get too relaxed, they are still assessing you no matter how friendly they’re being.
Actively listen – This can be harder than it sounds, particularly if the interviewer has a tendency to monologue. Taking notes might help keep your focused.
Smile – It will show in your voice! Smiling will improve your telephone manner, it will make you sound friendly, confident and relaxed.
Say thank you – This might seem obvious but sometimes in high pressure situations you can forget basic manners – don’t forget to say thank you.