Tips for success during a telephone interview

Why do employers conduct telephone interviews?

Employers will have a large pool of candidates applying for the role, it is easier for the employer to use a preliminary phone interview to screen potential candidates to then narrow this down to the interview selection. To free the time to conduct face to face interviews for all potential candidates would be a costly, time-consuming activity.

A phone interview allows the employer to ascertain further suitability for the role prior to inviting to an interview with an interview panel.

What are employers looking for during a telephone interview?

In a nutshell, the employer is looking to see if you are a suitable candidate for the job, they may be looking at factors such as:

Logistics: When are you available, what is your flexibility with working hours, if travel is expected are you able to travel. Do you have a driving licence and access to a car, do you have external commitments, holidays that you have booked. Would you need to relocate and if you are happy to do so? This would satisfy the employer that not only are you qualified for the role, but you are logistically suitable for the role too.

Salary Expectations: The employer would want to make sure that if you were offered the role, that you would, in fact, accept it. If you were expecting 25k a year but the role was offering 18k then the employer may feel you would not accept the role or stay long with the company. You should do your research first, check what the role is offering salary wise. If the role is advertised at 22k - 25k dependent on experience, you could ask where the consider the entry level and top level of experience, and state how you would place yourself in relation to this. Don't just say the higher figure without justification as to why you feel you have the experience to match the expectations. You could ask if there is a probationary rate rising upon completion of any relevant training. 

Understanding of the role: The employer will want to check your understanding of the role, to make sure you are still interested and you feel you have the necessary attributes for this role. Again, if you had misunderstood the nature of the role and you were offered a position in a face to face interview, which you then turned down. This would have cost the employer time and resources that could have been avoided.

Discussing your CV: The employer may want to clarify aspects of your CV, such as career breaks, or gaps in employment. They may want to elaborate on your knowledge, skills and behaviors and previous experience or achievements.

Discussing your skills and experiences: The employer may now check your suitability for the role through discussing your skills and experiences, they may ask questions such as "Tell me about a time when you came up with a new approach for a problem"

Prepare for the telephone interview

You should thoroughly prepare for a telephone interview as you would with a face to face interview, make sure you:

  • Research the company
  • Prepare a list of questions
  • Create the right environment, turn off the TV, ensure no noisy children or pets try to join in the interview, make yourself relaxed. If you are using your mobile phone, check it is charged and you have a good signal

Questions you may be asked during the interview

Try and anticipate what questions you may be asked and prepare answers for these. Questions could include:

  • Why are you leaving your current position?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What are your main responsibilities within your present role?
  • What has been your greatest achievement in your current role?
  • What attracts you to this role?
  • What are your salary expectations?

Questions you could ask during the interview

You should prepare a list of questions that you can ask during the interview to demonstrate your research and your interest. You should also make notes during your interview of any questions that come to light during the discussion. Questions you could ask include:

  • Is this a new role due to expansion?
  • What would my day to day responsibilities be?
  • Is there an opportunity for development, progression or training?
  • What are the company's plans for the future?
  • What is the next stage of the process?
  • What is the start date of this position?

The Interview

  • Listen! Listen carefully to what the interviewer is saying, you can make notes to refer to during your answers.
  • Talk - Make sure you smile when you talk and sit up straight, this will really make a difference to how you come across on the phone. Give clear and concise answers and give examples from your experience where you can.
  • Ask questions




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