Job interview technique | Telephone interviews

Telephone interviews have become a popular and cheap way for employers to hold interviews with many people in a short period of time. Telephone interviews tend to be used by those employers who have regular and large intakes of staff, particularly the graduate employers such as the big accounting firms, large banks, management consultants etc.

However it should be remembered that there is another type of telephone interview that there is another type of telephone interview that is conducted by all firms. This is the informal telephone interview. Whenever, you call up a potential employer they are likely to judge what you are saying.

Formal telephone interviews

Formal telephone interviews will often take the form of a first round interview, predominantly asking human resource type questions, such as: "Tell me a time when...". Although these interview questions can be a little tedious, you should not let you guard drop just because you are on the telephone. Answer the questions with the care and enthusiasm as if the interviewer was sitting before you.

When answering the phone make sure that you sound both professional and personable. Therefore you should be enthusiastic, friendly and collected. Do not rush or mumble as this will be lost over the phone.

It is a good idea during these interviews to keep a copy of your CV with you. This is one of the benefits of a telephone interview that you can have a cheat sheet. This way you will be able to check what you have written should an awkward question arise.

It will also be a good idea to note down any interesting facts and figures about the job, company or industry the business is involved in. Should the opportunity arise this will help to show that you have done your background research and will make you stand out in the crowd.

Try to avoid being too over-friendly on the phone. Don't use slang and treat the person on the other end of the line with the utmost respect. Don't call them mate and definitely don't swear.

You should also try to avoid giving yes / no answers. These can lead to awkward silences as the person on the other end of the line waits for a full answer. However, you shouldn't ramble. Be concise and clear, giving all the information required.

You should make sure that you speak directly into the telephone and are in a quiet place so you can hear and your voice is not drowned out.

Finally make sure you take notes as you are going along. Note down key points that might be useful in a more formal interview. If you do not have a pen and paper at the time and you are given details such as email addresses, telephone numbers or meeting times, then politely ask the for an email to be sent to you confirming the details.

Informal telephone interviews

Informal telephone interviews can happen when you are least expecting them. If you have listed your CV on a web site such as then you should expect to get calls from both recruitment consultants and potential employers. Often they will be looking to have a quick chat with you to talk to you about a position that might interest you and to quickly gauge whether you are suitable.

Getting these surprise calls can be quite flustering so you will need to make sure you are prepared as you can be. If you have recently listed your CV then you should expect these calls. Therefore if you are using a mobile phone and an unrecognised number comes up it is safe to assume that this is someone calling about a job. Take a couple of deep breaths and prepare yourself for the call.

All of the tips given above about formal telephone interviews will also apply to informal telephone interviews.


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