How should I prepare for a telephone interview?

If you are looking for a new position, you will have submitted job applications, but you may find that you’ll be offered a phone interview rather than a more formal face-to-face interview.

It’s not uncommon for this to happen & it could be for several reasons: There could be many suitable applicants and the company wishes to narrow down a selection of candidates, or you could be relocating to another part of the country and travelling a long distance isn’t practical in the first instance.

Whatever the reason … Telephone interviews should be treated exactly the same way as a face-to-face interview and as such, you should be prepared as if you were attending in person.

The ‘virtual’ interview room

Firstly, you won’t be turning up in an interview room in your best business suit, but think about what that environment would be like and try to recreate it.

Treat a phone interview in the same way by finding somewhere at home (or another quiet area) where you feel comfortable and hopefully relaxed. Find somewhere where there are no distractions, no lively children, barking dogs or other background noise. So, turn off the TV & radio, make sure no one else is around that will decide to start vacuum cleaning or crash around in the kitchen, as it won’t give a great impression to a prospective employer.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that most of us use mobile phones now, rather than land lines. A land line may be better, but if you use a mobile phone, make sure that you have a good strong signal as there’s nothing worse than repeating answers because the interviewer can’t hear you clearly.

Know the job description

It’s a good idea to have details of the job description to hand whilst on the phone. If you have this printed out you could highlight the key skills & requirements that the employer is looking for so that you can mention these during the telephone interview when opportunity arises.

Research the company

Fully research the company you are hoping to join – the size of the organisation, its clients and its reputation. Invest some time to find out about the companies culture, ethos, values and any recent news. Interviewers are always looking to understand your level of knowledge about their business as this demonstrates your level of interest.

This information can generally be found quite easily with a little research on the internet and the company website. Also, spend some time getting up-to-date on the latest developments in your area of expertise and see if the business has been mentioned in the news or press, as this shows you have been proactive in your research.

Know your CV & cover letter

Make sure you are prepared to talk in detail about anything that is on your CV, it’s so very easy to forget about important skills or experience that you may have particularly when you under pressure. Print out your CV, if you have it to hand you can clarify any points easily such as dates or figures if you are asked. Remember, first impressions count.

Be prepared for questions

Interviewers like to understand your choices and the reasons behind them, so be ready for key questions like: “Why do you wish to join us?” and “Why are you leaving your current job?”.

There is an advantage to a telephone interview and it’s the fact that you can’t be seen, so it can work in your benefit by having a list of answers prepared to common interview questions. Of course, the questions will vary, but there’s a good chance that you’ll be asked “Tell me about yourself?” and “What are your strengths/weaknesses?” in some way or another. Don’t write complete answers out, but make a list of bullet points for each question as it will be very obvious if you are reading from a script when answering a question.

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