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The path to success in phone interviews

Telephone interviews have traditionally been used to whittle down several candidates into a select few, who would then be invited for a face-to-face interview.

The impact of the coronavirus and social distancing measures means that face-to-face interviews are no longer practical. This means organisations need to use phone or video interviews to assess jobseekers. While some are continuing to use phone interviews as a method of filtering applicants, others requiring quick turnarounds are using easy-to-arrange phone interviews as the only stage in the process.

Phone interviews present different experience to face-to-face and video interviews. It might seem like a relief not to have an interviewer scrutinising your appearance and body language, but it also means it can be harder for you to make a good impression on them.

Below are some tips to ensuring you give the best phone interview you possibly can:

Prepare like it is a face-to-face interview

Regardless of whether your interviewer is using this as a single interview or as a first interview to shortlist candidates, you should still prepare as though this is a face-to-face meeting.

Find out as much as you can about the organisation who you would be working for. Research your interviewer and what they do at the company. List your key achievements and areas which demonstrate your skills.

Make sure that you write down any questions you want to ask. A phone interview is an ideal time to find out more about the role you have applied for, company culture and personal development opportunities.

Have your preparation to hand

When preparing for a face-to-face interview, it is important to memorise information, as consistently referring to pieces of paper does not create a flowing conversation and can count against you.

In a phone interview, an interviewer cannot see you referring to your notes, so you can do this much more often than in a face-to-face setting.

As part of your preparation, make a note of any important figures you can quote back to your interviewer, such as your sales figures, number of customers you have helped and other areas where you have gone above and beyond targets.

Have your CV and anything else you used in your application to hand, such as a cover letter, to ensure that you can refer to what you have listed on them; your interviewer will be doing the same.

However, do not fall into the trap of simply reading off a piece of paper, as this will be apparent to your interviewer. Instead, drop any information in naturally, ensuring that conversation continues to flow freely.

Communicate clearly and concisely

It is more difficult to have a naturally flowing conversation over the phone than face-to-face. There are actions you can take to help the conversation progress naturally.

The most important element is listening hard to your interviewer. Take on board all elements of their questions, making a note of anything that seems particularly important, in case they refer back to it later.

Always leave a pause when an interviewer stops speaking, just to make sure that you are not interrupting them. This pause will also give you some time to frame your answer in your mind.

When answering questions, put on your best ‘telephone voice’ and speak with enthusiasm and energy. Enunciate as much as you can, not forgetting to breathe. Having a glass of water to hand will also help you.

Just because there is no visual element, it does not mean you have to speak as much as possible. Well-formed, concise answers will make a far better impression than you rambling to make the same point over five minutes that you could have made in 30 seconds.

Finally, before the interview begins, make sure you can take the call in a quiet area where you will not be interrupted.

By following these steps, and applying face-to-face interview practice, you will make a great impression on your potential employer.

If you are looking for a job, permanent or temporary, across one of our many specialisms, contact your local REED office via email or over the phone.

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