Telephone Interviews - A CV Centre Guide

Telephone Interviews

The majority of telephone interviews are conducted in the early stages of the recruitment process so that an employer can assess how serious you are about the job before inviting you to attend a face-to-face interview. They are also commonly used as a way of whittling down a large number of applications in a cost effective and less time consuming way. The telephone interview is therefore of vital importance and can be the deciding factor in whether or not your application will be taken any further.

The process of telephone interviews can vary dramatically with some employers asking you to call them on a specific date and time and others preferring to call you either at a prearranged time or out of the blue.

If you are asked to call the company yourself, it is important that you do so at exactly the specified time. You do not wish to appear tardy but you also do not want to seem over keen. Be absolutely sure that you have the correct telephone number and that you know the name and title of the person you need to speak to. In the event of the interviewer being unavailable when you call, make sure that you leave a polite message asking for them to contact you to reschedule. This way, they will at least be aware that you did try to call at the appointed time. Sometimes, this method of telephone interview can involve a touch-tone system whereby you press particular keys in response to automated questions or statements. This is usually timed to ensure the integrity of your responses. Alternatively, the interview will be with a manager and will follow a standard question and answer format.

When an employer has arranged to call you, it is important to provide them with a telephone number that you are guaranteed to be able to answer. If there is the possibility of this telephone being answered by someone else, make sure that they are aware that you are expecting a call so that the telephone will be answered in an appropriate manner.

Whichever type of interview you are expecting, there are certain preparations that you can make which will improve your chances of success. Firstly, research the company and the job role in the same way that you would for a face-to-face interview. You may well be asked why you are applying for the role and how you meet the essential requirements so it is important that you are able to provide well-informed responses. One of the advantages of telephone interviews is that you can prepare notes and even have a copy of your CV and application form with you. You may also wish to have a list of questions that you want to ask the interviewer.

It may help to practice some standard interview questions with a friend to ensure the effectiveness of your responses and also to assess your tone of voice. First impressions are as important in a telephone interview as they are in a face-to-face interview and, because there are no visual indicators for the employer to assess you on, how well you articulate yourself becomes critical. One of the keys to success is to make sure that you sound energetic and enthusiastic and, by smiling throughout your interview, your tone will improve dramatically. The interviewer will be assessing your overall communication skills and this means not just how well you speak but also how well you listen. If in any doubt as to the last question put to you, do not be afraid to politely ask the interviewer to repeat it as this is much preferable to giving an irrelevant response.

You should always address the interviewer as Mr or Ms unless they have specifically requested that you call them by their first name. Use their name regularly, although not too frequently, throughout the interview to help establish a rapport between you.

It is important to conduct the interview in surroundings that are comfortable and relaxed. Try to minimise any background noises and avoid eating during the interview. You may want a drink of water but you should try to do this discreetly. If possible, sit upright or even stand up as this will help your breathing, but make sure that you are comfortable because fidgeting can be distracting.

It may be helpful for you to take notes during the interview so have a pen and paper to hand. Also, you must be prepared for the interviewer to want to book a face-to-face interview so have your appointments diary at the ready.

At the end of the interview, if no further interview is arranged, try to find out when you can expect to hear from them next. You do not want to appear pushy but you do want them to know how keen you are. Arrange to contact them on a certain day if they have not called you back before then. It is also important that you thank the person who has interviewed you.

Professional Interview Coaching

At The CV Centre, day in day out, we successfully coach our clients to truly excel at interview.  This enables us to bring you the very best of what we have learnt - helping you to excel at interview yourself.

When it comes to interviews, people often think, "Well, I'll just turn up and be myself."  Which is fine, but it won’t get you the job!  You need to plan and prepare for an interview as you are still up against many other applicants and this is your key opportunity to make an impact.  Your CV may get your foot in the door but you're on your own in the interview – and sometimes the most able candidate on paper can really shoot themselves in the foot when they actually get to the interview.

On average, there's likely to be at least 5 other candidates being interviewed for the same vacancy. So, everything else being equal, that gives you, at the most, a 20% chance of getting the job.  But there's so much you can do to improve your odds of success.

Learn more

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