Telephone Interviews – How To Succeed

Annette Lewis | Job Interview Advice

1-telephone interview

Due to the incredibly high rate of competition for available jobs on the market, the interviewing process has changed and Telephone Interviews have become a very common technique for employers to use. With up to two hundred or more applicants often applying for one particular post, companies have devised much easier ways to process all the possible candidates without having to physically interview each one and a Telephone Interview is the standard used.

A Telephone interview is used by employers for a variety of reasons. Firstly, companies will use this as a means of screening out unsuitable applicants. They will be looking to
eliminate those who might be lacking in certain areas such as experience, education, or skills. By conducting interviews over the telephone, companies can save time as well as man hours and this allows them to then focus on applicants who are better qualified for the position.

How Telephone Interviews Are Scheduled

When you are selected for a telephone interview you will most often receive a letter, phone call or email informing you of the time and duration. Bear in mind that some
companies do not schedule telephone interviews and prefer to catch possible candidates off guard to see how they will react in a crisis situation. This is rare however and during a situation like this, the representative from the company will normally ask if this is a convenient time for you to talk. If this is a busy time, then let them know you are unable to talk as this will give you an opportunity to reschedule for a time that is more convenient for you.

Getting Ready for a Telephone Interview

Typically, telephone interviews are straightforward and to the point. However, it is not unusual for even the highest qualified candidate to be rejected due to being inadequately prepared when they receive that all important telephone call.

As with any interview the key is to prepare in advance and a great way to do this is to hold a mock interview with family members or friends. Have them call you on the spur of the moment and ask a couple of questions. Get feedback as to how you came across; confident or not, prepared or not, professional or not? This is especially helpful if you are not used to using the telephone as part of your job.

Telephone Interview Tips

Some handy tips for Telephone Interviews include:

Information File:

Keep a file containing your CV, details of the jobs you have applied for and the relevant company details close to the telephone. Within this file you will want to include the job ad, a description for the job, any background information about the company, the products and services they provide, information on their industry, and any correspondence received from the company. Also include a copy of your resume and any correspondence you have sent the company.

Remember it’s a formal interview:

A telephone interview even if described as a ‘chat’ by the employer should always be treated as a formal interview. The rules about not eating, smoking etc should be observed throughout.

Professional Appearance:

It may sound crazy seeing as you cannot be seen, however if your telephone interview is taking place at your home, I suggest you dress up for it. So, instead of being in your pajamas, try dressing as if you were physically going to the company for the interview. This will help give you a more corporate mindset, which in turn can enable you to focus in more of a professional manner.

The Right Location:

When it is time for the telephone interview be sure you are some place quiet and away from everyone else such as in a study or den. It is also important to have any relevant materials at hand such as pen, paper, questions you would like to ask, researched information about the company, and a copy of your resume.

Positive Attitude:

By approaching the interview with a positive attitude you will feel more positive and this will come across to the caller. Tell yourself, you can do this job, you are an excellent candidate and you will have a great interview. This will get you thinking in a positive manner all of which will boost your confidence.


When answering the telephone, even though the interviewer will not be able to see you, be sure to smile. By smiling, you will be automatically forcing your body into a much more relaxed state of being, which will allow you to present yourself as an individual who is confident and assertive, but friendly at the same time. This will also enable you to converse in a much more professional speaking manner as well.

Stand Up:

Another way to display more confidence during your telephone interview is by standing up. This trick is oftentimes used by salesmen to increase their enthusiasm levels and help them stay alert and focused when making sales calls. If you will be standing up during the telephone interview process, then a headset might be preferred, which will enable you to keep your hands free. A headset will also help you to concentrate better on what the interviewer is saying instead of being focused on holding the receiver or phone.

Listen and converse:

This is your chance to sell yourself. Listen to the question, take a moment to reflect and then give your answer in a natural conversational tone of voice. Clarify the question of you are unsure of what they are looking for and above all keep your answers relevant to the post. You will have a limited time in which to make an impression so you need to be concise and focussed.

Ask Questions:

Although the interviewer will be setting the pace for the interview, it is definitely alright for you to ask questions along the way. However, it is vital that you never interrupt while the interviewer is speaking as this will be seen as being rude. When answering questions instead of replying yes or no, try to give more detailed answers. Show the interviewer that you have the capability to do the job and are committed to doing whatever it takes to become one of the team. Companies like team players.

Presenting Yourself.

If you receive a telephone call from a prospective employer, then the key is to remain calm. Know how to present yourself over the phone so they are unaware that you have
been caught off guard, which can be accomplished by staying positive. Greet the individual in a friendly manner by telling them you are glad they have called. Ask them to hold while you move the children to another room or you close an office door,which will also allow you time to catch your breath and grab the file you have prepared.

Start Practicing For Your Telephone Interview Today

Telephone interviews can be challenging and can often be difficult to prepare for. However, with InterviewGold the leading online interview skills training system you can be confident of knowing what to do and say during a telephone interview to impress the interviewer.

Practice with JOB SPECIFIC INTERVIEW QUESTIONS and EXPERT SAMPLE ANSWERS so you will know just what to say and not to say to get to the next stage.

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