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How to impress in your telephone interview

 By Orlagh Reynolds, Senior Business Director

With many of us currently working from home, it is perhaps inevitable that those searching for a new job will be asked to carry out a phone or video interview by a prospective employer. It can be more difficult to make the best impression when you are not speaking to someone face-to-face, so what can you do to ensure you ace your next interview over the phone?

Before your telephone interview
Although you are not going to be face-to-face with your prospective employer, preparing for the interview as if you were helps to set you up to impress. Take the time before the telephone interview to:

  • Confirm how long the interview will be and who will be undertaking the interview with your recruiter
  • Set up your interview space somewhere quiet where you won’t be interrupted by others in your household
  • Undertake some research into the organisation and the hiring manager conducting the interview
  • Thoroughly read the job description and make a note of the different ways your experience and skills make you perfect for the job
  • Have a run through over the phone with a friend to practice your verbal communication skills – these are even more important given the hiring manager won’t be able to read your body language over the phone. Things to look out for are talking too quickly, mumbling or interrupting
  • Write down some questions to ask the hiring manager at the end of the interview

The day of your telephone interview
One the day of your interview, clear your diary either side of the interview so you don’t feel rushed for time and prepare yourself mentally:

  • Get yourself into a positive mindset and calm your nerves before the interview. Do some breathing exercises and give yourself a pep talk to remind yourself of your achievements and why you’re right for the role
  • Check your phone is fully charged and that you have good phone signal
  • Have a warmup, especially if your phone interview is first thing in the morning as you may sound slightly hoarse. Have a glass of water close by throughout the interview 
  • Make sure you are clear on the timings of the interview and the number to call and be ready 15 minutes before 
  • Have all the information you will need close to hand including your CV, bullet points of your key skills and achievements, the job description and any headline information you found out about the organisation

During your telephone interview
You won’t be able to see the interviewer during the telephone interview, so it helps to imagine you’re sat in front of them to portray yourself in a more professional manner over the phone:

  • Adjust your body language so you are sitting or standing up straight to help you avoid mumbling. Smile and gesticulate as if speaking to someone face-to-face – this will make a real difference to how you sound to the person at the other end of the line
  • Speak at an even pace during the interview. It can be easy to rush our words when we are nervous, so be conscious of how quickly you are speaking and take a pause and a deep breath if needed to slow yourself down
  • Maintain a professional tone throughout the telephone interview. Answer the call promptly and in a professional way and avoid interrupting the hiring manager by pausing for a second once you think they have finished speaking before you respond
  • End the interview by thanking the interviewer for their time, reiterating your interest in the role and confirming next steps if these haven’t yet been discussed

After the telephone interview
Follow up in the same way as a face-to-face interview. Speak to your recruitment consultant once the interview has concluded to pass on your feedback and to discuss next steps.

Good luck with your next telephone interview!

As home working becomes the new normal for many, our Inspire Me in the New Era of Work Hub houses a number of resources to help you to work, find a new job, undertake interviews and start a new job from home. Remember, during this challenging time, your Hays consultant remains on hand to support you every step of the way – contact yours today.

About this author

Orlagh Reynolds is a Senior Business Director leading a team of Hays recruiting specialists across Office Support, Accountancy & Finance, Senior Finance HR and Procurement and Supply Chain. Orlagh has over 16 years’ experience in the recruitment industry, in both Ireland and Australia, and is based in our Dublin office.

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