How to Ace a Telephone Interview

When you are applying for jobs it is important that you are prepared for a telephone interview. Companies often call candidates before they begin face-to-face interviews in order to narrow their field of applicants and measure their interest in the role. These could be ten minute informal “chats”, after which they might invite you to a face-to-face interview (given they think you’re right for the role), or they may be formal 20-minute interviews with crucial questions to be answered and expectations to exceed. In either case, we want you to feel confident that you can ace the telephone interview – or at least feel less out of your depth – and so we’ve compiled a list of a few simple tips to talk you through the process.

  1. Practise.

Most interviews over the phone are scheduled appointments. Candidates are often asked to specify a time slot to suit them. This enables you to get some practise in beforehand. Whether this is with friends or by yourself, it can help ease you into the process of having a telephone interview. You could get a friend to ask you a set of questions – a few you expect, and a few to test your ability to think on the spot. Record yourselves, listen back, and try to take note of any bad habits you may have (‘um’s and ‘ah’s, for example). Practise makes perfect, right?

  1. Wear something smart.

I know what you’re thinking – ‘What?! They can’t even see me!’ This is, however, something that can help you get into the appropriate frame of mind for your interview. If you dress smart, you feel smart, and this will show itself in your voice. The same goes for body language. Studies have suggested that when you adopt ‘power stances’ for just two minutes your interior monologue begins to mirror your external body language. A confident interior monologue, in turn, makes for a confident speaker. Search Amy Cuddy’s ‘Power Pose’ if you fancy exploring this idea further!

  1. Have it all laid out.

Prepare your notes – have your CV to hand, as well as a list of questions you want to ask the interviewer about the company. This will provide evidence that you have prepared for and considered them as an employer individually (as opposed to applying a ‘one size fits all’ mentality in your interview preparation). Makes notes on any experience you may have in their field of work and your answers to anticipated interview questions, and ensure it is all easy to navigate (so you aren’t shuffling your papers around to try and find your answer).

  1. Be in the right environment.

Make sure you are in quiet, still surroundings. Too much noise will disrupt the interview and your focus (and may also seem less professional). Make sure your phone is charged, notifications are switched off, and that you’ve got plenty of signal. Whilst it may seem obvious, don’t eat or slurp drinks, though a glass of water may be a good idea in case your throat gets dry.

  1. Be yourself.

As difficult as it may seem when you’re trying to impress someone, try to be yourself. Let your true self impress them – after all, you may be working in close quarters with them for months to come, so they genuinely do want to get to know you (albeit the best version of you – but you nonetheless). Try to calm your nerves by reminding yourself of your own value.

  1. Take your time answering questions.

When you’re asked a question, take a deep breath and think before you speak. Briefly scan your notes and take your time to answer. Don’t take all the time in the world, of course, but a few seconds pause is totally fine. Try not to fill it nervously with ‘um’s and ‘ah’s – a well thought out answer will be much better received than a rushed, stuttering one.

  1. Remain positive!

Remind yourself of reasons why you would be good at the job, why you deserve it, and why you would enjoy it – you could even write them on post-it notes as nuggets of positive affirmation and to jog your memory during your interview. If you believe them it’s likely the interviewer will believe them too, because you are rather marvellous when you put your mind to it.

Last of all, we won’t wish you good luck because we think you’ll ace it.

Post by Lucy Barka

Lucy is a student at the University of Birmingham