Telephone Interview Tips for Job Seekers

Before The Interview

Research- In this day and age, whether you’re an employee or a contractor, you do not have an excuse for lack of research and you just know they’ll be ask, “So, what do you know about us?”
Be prepared! Enter the interview with something of interest to say about their company. Don’t just look on their website, look at their social media sites including Facebook and Twitter, or try a company search on LinkedIn or try looking at the FT or BBC’s companies sections so you will have something unique to say.
Imagine how impressed they’ll be.

Prepare- Always try to arrange for your call on a landline phone as these are generally more reliable than mobile phones. If this isn’t possible ensure you are in a strong signal area, the phones battery is well charged and the environment is calm and quiet. Before your call have a copy of your CV, the job description and any other relevant material at hand to refer to. If you can use hands-free without affecting the call quality this will enable you to take notes and can help the flow of the conversation. Avoid eating or drinking during your call as any noises are amplified and would demonstrate a lack of professional courtesy. If you find communicating effectively over the phone difficult take time to practice with a friend or colleague in advance to increase your confidence..


During The Interview

First Impression-Make sure you are available at the agreed time and that your phone line is clear. Answer the call confidently and clearly with “good morning/afternoon name speaking” It is important to be upbeat and friendly before getting into the real substance of the interview to get things off on a positive note. If you can get the interviewer on your side it may help later in the proceedings.

Interaction- Listen to the questions being asked and answer the question directly. Find the balance between a one word answer and going off on a tangent or providing superfluous information.
For example, “have you had experience of w?” “Yes, I used it on a project recently where we did x, y z” Confirmation and a succinct answer. If they want to know more they’ll ask and this will make the interview more conversational and comfortable.
The interviewer is as interested in you as a person as much as your skill level and they’ll be looking to see if you fit their company’s culture and will get along with other members of the team.

Questions you might be asked– Many interviews now contain Competency Based Questions. You can research these and prepare answers in advance – they can be tricky to think of on the spot sometimes!

- Tell me about yourself.
Prepare a 20 second ‘marketing statement detailing some personal and professional attributes.

- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Use your CV to pull out your star attributes and have 2 or 3 of each and reasons why. Don’t forget to turn the negative to a positive.

- How do you work under pressure?
You need to say that you can! Think of at least one example where there was a positive outcome.

- Tell me about a recent problem and how you solved it.
Be specific and describe what YOUR actions were and how they influenced the outcome.

- What do you know about our company?
Ensure that you’ve done your research so you can give them some background, industry awareness, current news, or other insight.

- How long have you been looking for a new job?
This can be tricky if you’ve been unemployed for some time but be honest. If you have been away on holiday or done some voluntary work you could mention this. If you receive the more direct “why were you laid off?” try not to answer immediately as you may give an emotional response. Take a second and try something along the lines off “I’m not sure as I was an excellent employee and received positive feedback in my performance appraisals” or similar.

- Why should we employ you?
The answer to this question should be based on your previous experience and achievements that relate to their company and the role. At the end you could add that you think there is a good fit between you and the job.

- What can you contribute?
This is your chance to shine. Tell them about your achievements in your previous position(s), which are relevant to the new position you are applying for.

- Why do you want this job? What can we offer that your current role doesn’t?
Stress the positive points that attracted you to the role. Do not mention the negative aspects of your current job. Stress specific opportunities for personal growth, new challenges, what you’ll bring to the role etc.

- What was your greatest success and how did you achieve it?
Pick an achievement that is related to their needs and describe your personal involvement.

- Behavioural Questions – Some examples
Give me an example of how you exercised leadership in a recent situation.

  1. Tell me about a decision you made recently and how you reached it.
  2. Tell me about how you persuade people to accept your point-of-view.
  3. Tell me about a time when you were under a great deal of pressure. What was the source of the pressure and what did you do?
  4. What failures have you experienced? What have you learned from your mistakes?

- “Any Questions for us?” – This is asked at nearly every interview. Come up with four or five good questions about the job and company, write them down and take them with you. This will remind you of what you are hoping to find out from the interview and also shows that you are well prepared. Avoid questions about salary because this makes it seem like you are only interested in the money and not the job and opportunity. Some examples could include:

  1. 'What goals might I be set for the first 6 months?'
  2. 'What percentage of supervisory positions are filled from within the organization?'
  3. 'Are there any plans for new goods or services?'
  4. 'Who are the key reports into this role / managers / key business stakeholders?'

Finish the interview by thanking the caller for their time.


After The Interview

Immediately call your Recruitment Consultant with your thoughts. It is important that we hear your thoughts on the opportunity, the company and all the positives (and not so positive!) from your interview whilst it is fresh in your mind so we can use this in our discussion with the client.

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