Recruitment specialists since 1980

Tuesday Jul 12

Woodland has some handy hints on how and why phone interviews are conducted and ways in which you can make a positive impact with the right preparation and approach.


An interview over the phone requires as much preparation as a meeting in person. This is your first opportunity to impress solely on you personality and your answers to questions. Practice makes perfect, and this also applies to phone interviews. 

Telephone interviews are becoming commonplace amongst many employers and recruiters. Employers choose to do this as an effective way of screening an individual to judge whether or not they can progress to the next stage of the process or an on-site interview. Candidates may have a great CV on paper, but can also be inept at communicating adequately for a role.  Questions will generally revolve around finding out about your work skills and competencies. Phone interviews are generally less time-consuming for both the candidate and the interviewer as opposed to arranging a face-to-face interview. More candidates can be contacted, and from a wider geographical area.  

Take a look at our top tips for mastering a great telephone interview below:


Preparation is Key

Do not for a second assume because you are having a telephone interview that you will need to prepare any less than a normal face-to-face. Ensure that your research the company thoroughly and make sure you go through the job description.  Take a look at the employers’ website which will give you a great rundown on company background. Other key indicators that you can use as artillery for the interview is company size and structure, the products/services it sells and the industries that they are affiliated with. If you feel you need to do an exercise to help build up confidence levels, why not get a friend or relative to do mock interview with you over the phone? Record it too so you can hear it back and pick out any areas that need improvement.


Find a perfect spot to take the call

The location that you decide to pick for a phone interview can dictate the outcome. Deciding to opt for a cafe where you might feel uncomfortable speaking about your work experience around people and children could have a negative effect. Trying to sneak out for an hour whilst at work is also a no go, as you might be heard by a colleague. Our recommendation for maximum effectiveness is a quiet room at home, away from any potential noise or distraction.


Answer the phone professionally

Saying something along the lines of “Good morning, John Smith speaking” is a good start. Ensure you address the interviewer as Miss, Mrs or Mr, unless invited to use his or her first name. By all means act enthusiastic, but be polite. And make sure your dialogue does not go into informal territory by being too overfamiliar


Have your notes/CV to hand

The great thing about phone interviews is that you can have all your notes/CV in front of you, so in the event of you forgetting something, you can have sufficient resources available at your disposal.  Recruiters may or may not have your CV in front of them, but regardless they may open the interview by asking about your previous experience. This is not only a great way to ease into the call, but is also good for ascertaining how well you carry yourself in conversation. However, don’t act as though you are reading off a piece of paper, or fumbling with papers till you find the answer to a question as this will not sound professional.


Take Notes

A phone interview is a great chance to find out more about the role you are applying for, the organisation’s cultures, and opportunities to move up the career ladder. So ensure you take notes that could be useful to refer back for the next step in the interview process. Alternatively, try to write down what you can remember about the questions, and your answers immediately afterwards, while it’s still fresh in your mind.


When the interview ends

Similarly to a face-to-face interview, it is most likely that you will be asked if you have any questions, so prepare accordingly. Asking a good question shows that you are confident and able to probe about finer details. Below are some sample questions normally asked by our candidates at the end of an interview.


1)     What are the next steps in the recruitment process?

The interviewer should inform you when they intend to reach a decision by. If they don’t clarify when they will relay this information onto you, find out before you finish the call.


2)     I’d like to find out about promotion and training opportunities

Make it totally clear that you are wanting to find out more because you are looking at working with the company for the foreseeable future and that you want to make an impact as soon as possible to merit a speedy career progression.


3)     What do you like most about working for this organisation?

A great way to gain an insight into the company from the interviewer’s perspective. It also demonstrates your willingness to find out more about the organisation.


Also included are some sample questions that you should AVOID!


1)     What are the holiday entitlements, and any chance of a pay rise?

Whilst we agree that one should have a good holiday entitlement and pay, it is not advisable to ask about these so early in the interview process. You don't want the interviewer to think that is all you are interested in!


2)     Can you give me some more information on what the company does?

Asking a question like this shows that you have not done sufficient research or prepared properly and an interviewer will question how seriously you are about the position.  


3)     Thanks for your time, have I got the job?

Putting an interviewer on the spot is a total no go. When the interviewer is ready to let you know, rest assured that they will. Do not enter this dialogue prematurely; you might not get the answer you want.


There are more interview tips on the Woodland blog, all created to assist you with preparing appropriately for interview. Should you wish for a more bespoke consultation, Woodland offers a career advice service which also includes in-depth assistance with interviews.

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