How to handle a telephone interview
Phone interviews can be hard work as the interviewer can’t pick up on all the visual signals they would during a face to face meeting. It can feel harder to connect over the phone – even Skype interviews can feel a little awkward with time lags, Internet drop outs and difficult camera angles to contend with. Telephone interviews needn’t be off-putting though, if you follow a few simple rules.
Just as if you were going to a face to face interview, research the company and the job description and make notes about how you meet the criteria. Write down any questions or important points you want to make; the advantage of a phone interview is that you can crib from your notes without being watched!
Practice makes perfect
If you’re worried about how you come across over the phone, you could ask someone to run through a mock interview with you and give you some advice. Or you could record yourself on a call and see how you sound – practicing coming over as calm and in control, taking breaths and listening to the interviewer’s questions will all stand you in good stead.
Peace and quiet
You don’t want any distractions during your telephone interview so turn music and TV off, make sure everyone else knows you’re having an interview and doesn’t interrupt you – get the kids out of the house for a bit so that there are no requests for food or toddler tantrums while you’re trying to impress the interviewer.
If the interviewer can’t see you, it doesn’t really matter what you wear but you can add to the formality by dressing as if you were going to a face to face interview instead, if you think that will help.
Take a couple of deep breaths and smile before you start. Smiling actually does come across in your voice without a visual. Speak clearly and slowly, and if you’re asked a difficult question it’s OK to pause while you think of an answer.
What not to do
- Don’t take the call in a place where there’s a lot of noise, like a coffee shop.
- Don’t eat or drink, except for sipping a glass of water if needed.
- Don’t take other calls – switch your mobile off, ignore the doorbell or landline and turn email notifications off to stop the dreaded pinging noises.
- Don’t be too laid back, treat this as a formal interview. So don’t take the call in bed, or in your PJs, make an effort. Even just standing up straight while you take the call can make it feel more formal and help sharpen your performance.