5 tips to nail that telephone job interview


Previously on this blog, we've touched upon ways to impress at interview – i.e. be on time; be smart; know your prospective employer’s business inside-out; and rehearse answers to obvious interview questions (while learning how to deal with the odd curveball).

Now, you could be forgiven for thinking that a phone interview is just a softer version of a face-to-face grilling. After all, you don’t have to dress up, you can choose a location that puts you more at ease than some stuffy, windowless meeting room, and the recruiters will be none the wiser if you read all your answers off a sheet in front of you.

That’s as maybe. But the constant stream of non-verbal cues and signals that help us understand each other when we meet in person are absent over the phone. So, in addition to thorough basic interview prep, we need strategies and skills to compensate for this if we are to communicate effectively on the blower. We recommend that you:

  1. Resist the temptation to talk too quickly. It’s often harder to follow someone’s voice alone than to see and hear them talking to you.
  2. Verbalise pauses – better to preface a long pause with “let me think about that a moment” than leave the interviewer hanging uncomfortably in unexplained silence.
  3. Agree a time when you can give your interviewer your full attention and find a quiet place where you can speak without interruptions.
  4. Don’t assume that having access to your notes is necessarily an advantage. This can be your undoing if you haven’t practiced your answers until you know them off by heart anyway – what if you can’t find the answer you need among your papers? Instead, pare your prompts down to a series of bullet points that signpost responses you’ve already got stored in your head.
  5. Think about dressing for the occasion after all. Good luck to you if you can genuinely get into the right mindset for an interview lying on the settee in your pajamas. However, we’d recommend you put on some smart clothes and sit down at a desk. The interviewer may not be able to see that you look the part, but as long as you feel it, that’s what is likely to come across. 

For more advice and information, visit workSMART’s Job Interviews section.