Many employers use the telephone to conduct initial job interviews, as it’s a quick and cost-effective way of screening candidates. To help you get through this first round, this article looks at the main purpose of telephone interviews and what to expect during this round. Furthermore, we give you a few helpful telephone interview tips including a list of questions you might expect to be asked during telephone job interviews.
The Purpose of Telephone Job Interviews
Face to face interviews are time-consuming and can be nerve-wracking and stressful. Not just for candidates but for hiring managers too. Nobody wants to waste their time going through the interview process unless both sides are certain that each is a good fit for the other. Remember, interviews are as much for the candidate to find out about the employer as they are for the employer to find out about them.
The purpose of telephone interviews is for hiring managers to whittle down their shortlist. The nature of the questions they ask is intended to discount those candidates who may not be serious about the job or maybe unsuitable for other reasons.
How to do Well in a Telephone Interview
The way hiring managers conduct telephone interviews can differ wildly. Many hiring managers prefer to book appointment slots so that both themselves and the applicant can mentally prepare.
Other interviewers like to set aside a day or an afternoon and call everyone on their shortlist, one after the other until they have spoken to them all. Thus catching people ‘on the hop’. The thinking behind this is that they will get a more honest impression of what someone is really like. Job seekers should, therefore, remain prepared at all times for a phone interview as the phone call could come at any moment.
With the above in mind, it’s a good idea to prepare for a telephone interview from the moment you submit an application or submit your CV to a job board. Make sure you keep track of where you submit your CV too. Setting up a spreadsheet on Google Docs is an ideal way to do this because it’s accessible from anywhere.
Generally speaking, you should treat a phone interview like a face-to-face interview. Know your CV and always have a copy in your bag when you leave the house. For any jobs you submit cover letters, print a copy off and keep it with your CV.
Furthermore, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the job description and research the company of any roles you apply for. You never know when they might call. As you conduct your research, make a note of anything you would like to know more about. Prepare to ask questions at every stage of the interview process, you could be eliminated at any point for not doing so.
Before You Take The Call
If you are not prepared, or if someone calls at an inconvenient time, it is perfectly acceptable to say so and ask for them to call you back. This will also buy you a little time so that you can prepare.
Many people have a rule of not answering their cell phone if they get a call from an unknown number. While this is understandable, it is not advisable when applying for jobs as you could miss out on your dream opportunity!
While it may be the norm for you to answer your phone with a phrase like ‘Yo bro!’, when job hunting, it is wise to sound professional every time you pick up the phone! A simple greeting along the lines of ‘Hello, *your name* speaking, how can I help?’, is absolutely fine.
Make sure you’re somewhere with a good phone signal, minimal distractions and quiet. If you’re currently in a role which involves a lot of travel, don’t take a telephone interview call while driving or on a train.
Practice Makes Perfect
It’s good to practice your telephone interview technique with friends or family members. After all, promoting yourself on the phone isn’t something you do every day and therefore may not come naturally.
Record a ‘mock’ interview to see how you sound on the phone. Try to avoid long pauses and any ‘uhs’ and ‘ums’. Be upbeat and positive in your responses and practice answering questions you think interviewers might ask.
What to Expect During Your Telephone Interview
Remember that the ideal outcome of a telephone interview is to successfully secure an invite to the next stage. While this is usually an in-person interview, it could just as easily be a video interview.
Telephone interviews are only usually around 15 minutes to half an hour long. Therefore, your responses should be concise.
Questions to Expect in a Telephone Interview
Keep in mind that the purpose of the questions in this round is to eliminate candidates who the hiring manager deems unsuitable. Below are some of the most common phone interview questions:
- Do you have the right to work in the UK?
- What is your current work situation?
- Where do you live in relation to the office and how will you travel there on a daily basis?
- What interests you about this position?
- What qualifies you to do this job?
- How does your previous experience relate to this position?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- What are your salary expectations?
- Do you have any holidays booked?
- What is your notice period with your current employer?
- Would you be interested in meeting with us to discuss the position further if you are successful at this stage?
- Do you have any questions at this stage?
Ten Useful Tips to Help you Nail Your Telephone Interview
- Speak clearly – sitting up straight will help with this
- Be upbeat, helpful and positive
- If you have time to prepare, have a glass of water standing by
- Also, have your CV, a copy of the job description and any notes you have made
- Smile as you speak, it projects a positive image to your interviewer and will make you sound more relaxed and confident
- Listen carefully to the questions asked and try not to interrupt
- Think before you speak. It’s perfectly acceptable to take some time to collect your thoughts or ask the interviewer to repeat anything that’s not clear
- Keep your answers brief unless your interviewer asks you to expand
- Remember to thank your interviewer for their time at the end of the call
- Use this last point as an opportunity to ask what the next steps are when you can expect to hear from them again
A Few Closing Thoughts on Telephone Interviews
If you’re unsuccessful in your first few attempts, try not to feel too defeated. Instead, try and remember the questions from the phone interview and practice again with friends and family. Be sure to ask them for feedback too and create a cheat sheet of what works and what doesn’t. If something’s working, make an effort to focus your efforts on it. On the other hand, if something isn’t working so well, try to leave bad habits behind.
We wish you all the very best of luck with your telephone interview! If this article has helped you, please, go crazy and share it all over your favourite social media channels. Others will be bound to thank you for it.