How to handle a phone interview

You are on the hunt for a new job and have started sending out your job applications. You have been working your network like a super star and you have just missed a call from a recruiter. You know that you need to have a great telephone interview so what do you do?

Firstly, I think it’s important to note that the telephone interview is designed to find out if you are going to be worth interviewing. This means that it is a vital step in the interview process. You need to make sure you are giving a great impression of yourself and proving that you are going to be a candidate worth bringing in for a more detailed job interview.

Secondly, there are 2 types of telephone interview. The scheduled and the unscheduled. The scheduled telephone interview is when you have received an email (or message) from the recruiter and they have set up a time to speak with you. An unscheduled telephone interview is when the recruiter just calls you with no notice. You need to treat both of these interviews exactly the same. It is never a “quick chat” even if that is what the recruiter says.

Thirdly, you need to be ready and prepared for a phone interview as soon as you start sending out your job applications.

Here are a few tips to help you ace the telephone interview.

1 – Only answer or call back when you are in a place where you can talk

I have had many candidates answer the phone whilst they are at the train station, in the supermarket, driving, playing with their kids at the playground, at a restaurant… and the list goes on. If you are going to struggle to hear me then I am going to struggle to hear you. It is better to miss the call and go to a quiet place than it is to answer and be distracted.

2 – Be positive and let your personality shine

Telephone interviews can be harder to show your personality. You are relying on your voice and your answers. This means that you are going to need to be mindful of not only what you are saying but also how you are saying it. A tip I like to give my clients is to speak with a smile on your face. It will make you sound happier. Give it a try. I promise it works J

3 – Know your answer to “so tell me about yourself”

You will probably be asked this question as part of the telephone interview. You need to have a great answer to this question. To read all about how to do this take a look at

4 – Have your resume, job application info, notes, the company website, etc with in easy access

The benefit of a telephone interview is that the person on the other end can’t see you. This means you can be sitting in front of your laptop with the company website about us page on your screen or your prepared answers ready to help you. It can make an interview easier if you can access this info. My tip here is not to get distracted by reading but to use these as tools to help you give better answers.

5 – Listen. Connect. Answer

Make sure you are listening to what the recruiter is saying. Write down notes or key words, make connections then provide an answer. This is a simple strategy and it really works. You need to be able to talk about your experience specifically related to the job you are interviewing for.

6 – End on a high

Sometimes you will find out if you are going to make it to the next round of interviewing whilst you are still on the phone. Sometimes you will have to wait until the recruiter has spoken to other candidates. Regardless of the outcome make sure you end the telephone interview on a positive.

Now that you know what to do to have a great telephone interview you can confidently answer the phone and be a standout candidate. Go get ‘em!!!

Skye London

Career Coach | Career development | Job Search

Skye London is Co-founder and Lead Career Coach at Y Executive. With a passion for coaching and extensive experience in all things recruitment Skye has developed a reputation as the go to person for help with your career.
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