Telephone Interview Guide

Candidate Interview Zone

Telephone Interview Guide


Our Telephone Interview Guide is designed to help you prepare for a telephone interview and give you the best possible chance of success.
Although a telephone interview is relatively straightforward, even highly capable candidates can be rejected at this early interview stage if they are inadequately prepared.
For many candidates, the whole situation can feel unnatural - without eye contact it can be difficult to build rapport and display a strong personality with your interviewer.

Let's get started

Scroll down to view the whole Guide, or click a quick-link below to go straight to a section:

Top Tips for a successful Telephone Interview

Many candidates find it hard to adapt to telephone interviews and struggle to get into interview "mode" when talking to interviewers over the telephone. You need to be as professional and presentable as you would in a face to face situation from the moment your interviewer calls.

  • Although it may sound strange, putting on smart, interview style clothes before your scheduled telephone interview can help you to focus and get into a professional mind-set.
  • Find a quiet place to answer the phone and put yourself to work studying some relevant material on your company or industry before the scheduled call so that your mind is already focussed on work.
  • Make sure you smile when answering your phone. If you force yourself to smile, you physically become more relaxed and as a consequence your voice will sound more confident, friendly and assertive. If you do this, you will come across much better when speaking.
  • Standing up, rather than sitting down, can be a good way to keep your confidence and enthusiasm levels high. Professional salesmen use this trick to keep them focussed and alert when making high-pressure sales calls.
  • Experts recommend using a headset when making, or taking, important calls. Doing so helps you concentrate on talking and thinking, rather than holding your phone, and allows you to use your hands to complement your responses.
  • Finally, make sure you keep a copy of your CV, and any notes you may have made on the company in question to hand.
Common Telephone Interview Mistakes
Candidates that fail telephone interviews often do so because of poor preparation or making minor mistakes. Some common mistakes are discussed below - make sure you steer clear of them!

Aviod these common Telephone Interview pitfalls:
Forgetting Your Interview

Candidates who forget a scheduled telephone interview are destined to fail. If a recruiter calls a candidate who appears to be confused, unprepared and disorganised, they will be unlikely to invite them for a face to face interview.

Getting Interrupted

Almost as bad as forgetting your interview, is organising your interview at a time, or in a place, where you will be interrupted. Ensure wherever you want to take your telephone interview is a place where you will be left in peace.

Insufficient Battery

If using a mobile phone, remember to charge it on the day of your interview. If your phone cuts out, or starts beeping during conversation, you risk irritating your interviewer or losing your train of thought.

Using Slang Words

Be wary, as candidates who would never use slang in face-to-face interviews often accidentally use slang during a telephone interview without even realising it, because they are so used to using the phone to talk to friends.

Be mindful of time
In most telephone interviews, time is strictly limited; you may even feel as though you are being rushed when answering questions.
Sometimes time is so strictly limited that interviewers will stop candidates talking even though they have not completely finished answering a question.

This is usually because the candidate has already answered the question well enough and the interviewer has decided that they do not need any further information, and to save time they can move on to the next question.
Don't be worried to take a little time to consider questions and your responses, before answering. Although time is limited, your interviewer will understand that candidates need to take some time to produce top quality responses.
First - and last - impressions count
Your telephone interview begins from the moment you answer the telephone and ends only when the conversation, questions and your goodbyes have been completed.

Even your opening "good afternoon" or "good morning" message should be outgoing, engaging and enthusiastic. Aim to impress your interviewer at every stage.

Your approach

Step 1
Understand the process

Telephone Interviews require a slightly different approach: prepare accordingly.

Step 2
Research the company

Their industry, locations, size, values, culture, news and competitors.

Step 3
Talk to impress

Remember that your interview begins from the moment you answer the telephone.

Step 4
Be professional

Look out for common Telephone Interview mistakes to avoid.

Your Next Steps

Now you understand the process behind Telephone Interviews, it's time to look at the questions you may be asked during your interview, and the best way to answer them.

Questions will usually focus on your CV, work experience and academic history; your motivations for applying to the firm in question, the particular industry and job role; your knowledge of the firm itself; and your skills, qualifications and competencies.

Choose from one of the following options for the next stage in your
interview preparation:

Interview Preparation Checklist

How to prepare

Here you will find a checklist of how to prepare for successful interview.

Questions by Profession

Search by job title

Here you will find example interview questions based on the role you are applying for.

After Your Interview

Contact your consultant as soon as possible after your interview has finished.

This is very important so that you can debrief your consultant on how you think your interview went: good or bad. If you're worried about any aspect of the interview, your consultant may be able to smooth things over with the company. If you're feeling positive then this feedback will also be important to share with the client.
We're here to help you succeed
We believe in your abilities and want to see you do well at interview, get the job and progress your career!

If you are unsure about any aspect of the role or the company - no matter how small - then please get in touch with your consultant straight away so we can help:
  • Questions by email: Simply reply to your interview confirmation email from your consultant.
  • Questions by phone: Call our office on 01273 607129 to speak to our teams directly.
To your career success!

Integrity First