Telephone Interviews

In some cases, the first interview that a candidate will have is a telephone interview. Interviews over the phone are often used to screen candidates for a position that has a high number of applicants. They can also be used to interview candidates who live or work far away.

Preparing for a telephone interview

Candidates should prepare for a job interview over the phone in the same way they would prepare for a normal interview. This includes having answers prepared on typical interview questions including strengths, weaknesses, employment background and skills for the workplace.

  • Have a copy of your CV to hand and in full view so you can refer to it during the interview.
  • Make a list of your accomplishments, so you can refer to them, if asked.
  • Have a pen and paper, so you can take notes during the interview.
  • Avoid interruptions and distractions. If you have call waiting on your phone, turn it off. Put any other phone in the room on silent. Turn off the television and radio and close the door.
  • Use a landline to take the call, if the mobile phone coverage isn’t great where you are.

During a phone interview

  • Don't eat, drink, smoke, or chew chewing gum.
  • Keep a glass of water beside you in case your mouth goes dry.
  • Make sure to smile as this will change the tone of your voice, making you sound more positive, which the interviewer will pick up on.
  • Speak slowly and pronounce your words clearly.
  • Call the interviewer by their title and last name (e.g. Mr Burns) unless they ask you to call them by their first name.
  • Don't interrupt the interviewer.
  • Remember it’s okay to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts before answering a question.
  • Don’t give long-winded answers. Keep them as brief as possible.
  • Succeeding in a phone interview will lead on to a face-to-face interview. Make sure to thank the interviewer at the end of the interview, and ask whether it’s possible to be interviewed in person.

After a phone interview

Write down details of the questions you were asked and answers you gave during the interview.

Have you read our other guides to help you prepare for interview?

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