Tips for a successful telephone interview


Companies often use telephone interviews as a first stage screening process as they can save the applicant and the company both time and money.  Telephone interviews are often very straightforward, short conversations, seeking to find out if the applicant meets the employer’s basic requirements; but sometimes they can be far more thorough, delving into technical competencies and a detailed discussion of your CV.

If you have applied for a job through Christy Media Solutions, you will already have had at least one telephone interview with our consultants, to discuss the role in detail and find out if it is the right fit for you, as well as ascertaining if you have the skills, attitude and aptitude that our client is looking for.   If you are then offered a telephone interview directly with the company recruiting, there are a few key things you must remember:

Before the interview:

  • Set a time for the interview that suits you – if you aren’t confident that you will be undisturbed during the time slot you are offered, then request an alternative, as it is important that you are able to concentrate on the interview and not be distracted.
  • Find out how long the interview is likely to take, who will be conducting it and what the structure of the interview is likely to involve – this will all help you to feel confident and prepared when the call happens.
  • Try to pick somewhere quiet for your interview; you want your interviewer to be concentrating on your responses and not the background noise of a television, family members or tannoy announcement.  Obviously, you also want to be able to hear the questions!
  • If you are using your mobile phone, then make sure it is fully charged and that you have good reception where you are planning to receive the call.
  • Sort out your CV, a pen and paper and any other relevant information and have them ready, to hand, for the call.
  • Just as for a face-to-face interview, you should do some preparation:  Find out as much as you can about the company and the role – you can look at their website on-line and if you have secured the interview through an agency like Christy Media Solutions, ask the recruitment consultant for their advice and what they think the company is looking for.  If you know anyone working at the company or in the wider industry, ask them for their insights about the company/department/technology or products.
  • It may be a good idea to refresh any skills that have been listed in the job specification, especially the more basic ones that you may not have used recently, if your current or last role used a very specific technical skill-set.
  • Prepare some questions of your own to ask the interviewer, try to avoid questions about holiday or working hours – aim instead for questions about the company’s objectives and how your role will be supporting these, but keep your questions brief and to the point.

During the interview:

  • Smile – the interviewer can’t see you smiling, but smiling as you speak will make you sound more confident and will help to relax you.
  • Try to sound enthusiastic and thoughtful – take a breath before diving into an answer and consider your response before you begin to speak.
  • Remember that although some telephone interviews can be in-depth and more than an hour, most are fairly brief, so try to keep your answers to the point.  The interview may feel a little rushed as the interviewer will probably be working to a list of questions and once they feel you have answered a question, they will move directly on to the next.  Try not to let this worry you.
  • You can clarify if you have answered a question sufficiently with phrases like: “Would you like me to expand on that?”, “Would you like me to go into more detail?”  – Without the visual benefits of body language or facial expressions, it is harder to judge how the interview is progressing, so clarifying if you have answered a question or section of the interview fully, can help ensure you don’t move onto the next point when your interviewer is still expecting more on the current one.
  • Some questions will probably be of a technical nature – it is always better to try to answer these using real-life examples that you have encountered in previous roles, rather than text-book answers.
  • The interviewer may pause or go quiet between questions, but try not to get flustered – bear in mind that they need to record your answers and will need time to do that.
  • Finally, remember this is an interview and however well you hit it off with the interviewer, this is not your mate on the end of the phone…  It is important not to be nervous and try to remain calm, but it is also important to remember that this is a formal interview with a potential employer, even if you are conducting it on the couch at home!

 After the interview:

  • Writing a short email thanking the interviewer for their time, outlining any key points you discussed and restating your interest in the role is a good idea – if you have applied via an agency, they should be willing to forward this on for you.
  • If your telephone interview does not result in a further face to face interview, it is worth asking the agency that set it up for feedback, (or if you applied for the job directly, the company HR department) so that you can improve your performance for next time.