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Getting Through The Phone Interview and Winning The Face To Face One

Catherine Z Jones

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More and more companies use phone interviews these days to reduce the pool of applicants to a manageable size for interview, especially for national recruitment campaigns like graduate or trainee schemes, or for mass recruitment required with the opening of a new company - store and the like.

You can be ‘phone-interviewed’ in two ways:

  • By invitation, when you are given a time to call or a time to receive a call.

  • Without invitation, i. e. unexpectedly!

So, while you're actively looking for a job, it's important to be prepared for a phone interview at a moment's notice. You never know when a Company or Agency might call and ask if you have a few minutes to talk.

Phone interviewers questions are usually more general in nature than face to face interview questions and are sometimes even multiple choice.

Multiple choice questions will ask you, for example:

  • “Do you strongly disagree, disagree, agree or strongly agree with the following statement: ‘I have the killer instinct'".

  • “Do you strongly disagree, disagree, agree or strongly agree with the following statement: ‘I prefer to work on tasks on my own'".

These type of phone interview questions try, at a very basic level, to ween out candidates wholly unsuitable for the job.

Our advice? Know the sort of person the interviewer is looking for and answer the question accordingly.

Here are our TOP phone interview tips:

  • If it isn't a convenient time, ask for an alternative date or time or offer to call back later. Don’t risk the alternative!

  • If you have ‘call-waiting’, turn it off so you’re not interrupted.

  • Have a copy of your CV, application form or resume with you, so you can refer to it, possibly when they do.

  • Have a pen and paper ready for taking notes.

  • Clear the room of noise and distractions - kids and pets are a good start!

  • Practice. Ask a friend or family member to conduct a mock phone interview and record it so you can hear how you sound over the phone. You will be able to hear your ums and uhs and okays and you can practice reducing them. It will also give you the chance to rehearse answers to those typical phone interview questions you will be asked.

During the Phone Interview

Again, the same advice applies to phone interviews as it does to face to face interviews, so:

  • Use the interviewer’s title (Mr or Ms and their last name). Only use their first name if they ask you to.

  • Don't interrupt the interviewer. Wait for them to finish, completely.

  • Take your time – better to take a moment or two and give a good answer than rush and give a bad one.

  • Give short answers – you can always add “does that answer your question?” if you are worried you’ve not said enough.

  • Try to smile – it helps lift your voice so you sound more positive.

  • Don’t chew gum, eat, or smoke.

  • Have a glass of water handy, in case you get a dry mouth.

  • Speak slowly and clearly.

After the Interview:

  • Take notes about what you were asked and how you answered.

  • Remember to say “thank you. " Follow with a thank you note which reiterates your interest in the job.



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