Many recruiters these day will use telephone based interviews as a more practical way of recruiting and screening potential candidates prior to them being put forward to the client for the next step of the process. They have become the ‘norm’ way that recruiters tend to interview to save on the costs associated with interviewing candidates that may be in most cases based in opposite ends of the country or indeed different countries.

With this in mind it is important for candidates to be aware that these interviews, unlike traditional face to face ones, tend to come at very short notice giving candidates little, if any time, to fully prepare. 

We would suggest that telephone interviews should be approached with the same level of thought and attention as traditional interviews. Your questions to the recruiter should be planned in advanced. Similarly your responses to the most common questions the interviewer may ask you should also be practiced and perfected.

Below we have listed some of the key things to consider when a recruiter approaches you for a telephone interview.

Preparation is key sounding professional, therefore you should:

  • Have an up to date copy of your CV to hand highlighting your experience that is relevant to the position and be sure to memorise the most important information from it, so if the recruiter rings you can answer without hesitation and sound confident in your abilities.
  • Make a note of key dates, such as gaps in employment or projects completed, this is so you can be ready to explain these if pushed.
  • Make sure you are able to receive the call, telephone interviews are typically short 5-8mins long. If you are using your mobile phone is the signal clear? If not, ask the recruiter to call you back if possible on a land line. If it is not convenient for you to talk at that point, then the recruiter will not mind calling you back at a later date that is suitable for you.
  • If you are using your mobile phone to receive the call, be sure to turn off call waiting as again this will distract you when you receive the call.
  • Make sure you are in a quiet location where there can be no distractions e.g: loud background noises such as traffic, TVs, music or pets. If you are in a room close all doors and/or windows.
  • If possible, have a pen and paper to hand to that you can write down key information during or at the end of the interview.

During the telephone interview:

  • Make sure you are not eating or drinking during the interview as this will almost certainly come across as unprofessional.
  • If you have never received a phone interview, then ask the recruiter before the interview starts about the structure and process the interview will take. This will ensure that you are not taken off guard by unseen topics or questions.
  • Listen carefully to the recruiters questions and take your time in responding. Taking things slowly and not rushing your answers will help you to consider and formulate your responses as well as to relax you. Again telephone interviews are much like face to face interviews, but just because the interviewer cannot see you, does not mean that you can forget your etiquette. Interrupting and rushing your responses will do you a disservice and will damage your chances of making it through to the next stage.
  • Remember to sound positive and enthusiastic.
  • Remember telephone interview are typically short, therefore you should aim to give short and concise answers, however a good interviewer will know to allow you adequate time for you to respond to questions, and still should not rush you.
  • Don’t be too concerned with any pauses between you giving your answers, as the interviewer may need some time to make notes between questions.
  • One of the major issues with telephone interviews are that it is harder for candidates to judge if they are answering questions correctly, as normal indicators of responses cannot be gaged by body language or initial feedback, as would be the case in a face to face situation. If you are unsure as to whether your responses are adequate then ask the recruiter if you need to go into more detail.

After the interview:

  • Thank the interviewer for their time.
  • Ask any questions that you could not during the interview, such as what to expect next and when will you could expect to hear back from the recruiter.
  • Make sure you have the contact details of the recruiter who called, such as their name, phone number and email address, so you can be sure to thank them by a more formal means later and to highlight again your suitability for the role.

It is always important to approach telephone interviews in the same manner as their more conventional counterparts. How you prepare and respond to questions will have a lasting and hopefully positive impact on you being put forward to the next round of the recruitment process.  

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