Interview Tips

How to Succeed at Phone Interviews

Make sure you nail the phone interview with this expert’s guide.

If you’ve got a phone interview lined up, well done! You’ve already progressed through the initial sift, and you might get the chance to attend a face-to-face interview or even an assessment centre with your potential future employer. Things are starting heat up now though, and the competition will no doubt be very tough!

A recruiter could either set up a time and date for a call or just give you a ring whenever. This is why you need to be prepared for a phone interview at all times.

A standard telephone interview can last for 20 minutes to 1 hour and to reach the next stage, you need to pull out all the stops and we are of course here to help you do that.

How to prepare

Research the business and the role

Researching a CompanyJust like in any interview, you should know about the business and be ready to talk about what you think of it and how it all works.

Take a look at the company website and search the internet for any recent news stories that it might have featured in. Any information that could work in your favour and show just how well prepared you are is essential!

Practice typical interview questions

Look up interview questions that you’re likely to be asked and draft a few responses that showcase your skills and experience.

It’s likely that you will be asked questions very similar to a face to face interview so make sure you have a good grasp on what these will be.

Have some brief notes at hand

written notesThe great thing about a phone interview is that you can have your notes right in front of you. You should avoid shuffling papers and scrambling around for answers, so try to keep it to just one side of A4.

Map out the questions you might be asked and jot down a few bullet points for each. The interviewer will know if you’re reading the full answer off a sheet, so just write prompts that will put you on the right lines.

It’s also well worth printing out your application (if you can get it) so that you can refer to any important points.

Finally, it’s well worth having a pen and paper handy for any notes. If you write something down from the beginning of the interview then you can refer back to it later.

Get all the details right

What time will they be ringing you? Who is it that you’ll be talking to? Double check everything the business sends you so you know exactly what you need to do. The last thing you want is to get the time wrong and end up taking the call when you’re in the supermarket!

What to do in the interview

Prepare the right environment

phone interviewPick a quiet area in your house and make sure you don’t have any distractions. Remind anyone that you live with that you’ll be having an interview, and ask them not to disturb you. Background noises will be distracting and might tell the recruiter that you’re not very well prepared, so think about your environment carefully.

It’s also a good idea to have a glass of water handy as nerves can sometimes cause your mouth to dry up which can be an unwelcome distraction when you are trying to answer questions to the best of your ability.

Also, it may sound obvious but make sure you aren’t chewing any gum as the noise of chewing will be amplified over the phone.

Pretend it’s a face-to-face interview!

Just because you can’t see the interviewer doesn’t mean that you should act any differently. If you think it’ll make you feel more professional, hunt out your best working wardrobe and look the part.

It can sometimes be difficult to have a serious discussion when you’re sitting in your pyjamas!

Keep smiling

smileIt might sound a bit cheesy, but try to keep a smile on your face.

It’ll make you sound more cheerful and positive, and can do wonders for your mindset.

Positive endorphins and all that…

Speak slowly and clearly

Use your best “posh” voice and make sure that you take your time over each question. Taking some time to think won’t be frowned upon by the interviewer.

Take a few deep breaths every now and again to settle yourself and try not to get overworked (although this is easier said than done).

What to do afterwards

Now the waiting game starts all over again! Follow the usual after-interview process by dropping a brief email to the recruiter, thanking them for their time and stating that you’re available for any further questions if necessary.

You shouldn’t hassle the employer, but it’s perfectly acceptable to get in touch again if you haven’t heard anything about a decision within a week or two. You could even suggest that after your phone interview it would be great to meet in person to go over things in more detail.

If you do find out that you haven’t been successful, make sure that you seek some feedback. Getting to the phone interview stage is an achievement in itself, so it might just be the case that other candidates had more practical experience. Getting some comments from the employer can help you to plan your future development and boost your chances of securing a similar job further down the line.


Have you experienced a phone interview while looking for a job?

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