Hello? Is it me you're looking for? The Dos and Don'ts of Telephone interviews
As with many of the Graduates Schemes now being flooded with applications, one of the early filters used by employers is a telephone interview. An easy way for employers to filter out many applicants from the comfort of their office chair without anyone having to travel. These types of interviews require a slightly different approach to group interviews or one to one interviews, but are fraught with dangers.
So to ensure you are not culled during the early hurdles for these graduate jobs and schemes, here are your dos and don'ts for telephone interviews.
Make sure your phone is fully charged or at least 50% charged. This also goes for ensuring that you can get a good signal in the place you are going to speak to the employer. There is no point being in a bunker, or sounding like you're at the bottom of a cavern. Some fastidious employers will read a lack of organisation or preparation into this, but all interviewers will just be unable to hear you.
Use speakerphone. Nobody uses speaker phone and this will only be detrimental to quality and clarity of your answers. This goes for any kind of hands-free gear, unless the quality is good enough, just using the phone normally to your ear should suffice and help contribute towards the sense of occasion.
Print off everything you need. This is the beauty of telephone interviews, you are allowed as many prompts, notes and information in front of you. The best bet is to take over the kitchen table and have spread out in front of you: your CV, the job description, a pen and paper and list of successes and failures in your life so far, your motivations and your strengths and weaknesses.
Warning: be careful not to obsess over these and make sure you're still focused on the employer.
Be interrupted. Make sure you are not going to be disturbed. This can be very tricky if you've moved home and doubly so if you'r e still living with your university mates in a shared house. If you are interrupted it can break the flow of an interview and throw you off kilter when you were about to give the gold plated response. The last thing employers want to hear is your mate suggesting an a piss up at 2pm, no matter how good an idea it seems.
Have water to hand. This one is an absolutely key. Having a large glass of water to hand is important for making sure you don't get too nervous and when your mouth goes dry. This is a problem I have personally encountered in many interviews, when the nerves kick in slightly my mouth goes dry and it feels like I'm talking with sand in my mouth. Not a great impression and only leads to more anxiety.
Slouch. While this might sound entirely pretentious, making sure you sit up and hold yourself like you are sat opposite the interviewer will help you live up to the occasion. It could be sitting up straight, holding you head up or even standing up that might help you think clearly and carefully.
One telephone interview I had I paced around the garden, great signal, no disturbance and no back ground noise this was also able to help me think a bit more clearly. I didn't get the position mind, but if you think this would help you then try it.
Be yourself. These sort of interviews tend to be much more personality orientated, looking to see if you would be a cultural fit with the company rather than if you have the skills or experience. So it is important to remain relaxed and engaged so that you can let your personality come through instead of trying to be formal and "professional".
Get distracted. Whether it is some minor tidying or letting minor OCD kick in by aligning your pens on the table. This will skew your thought process and you might miss something the interviewer has said. This is difficult to ensure as it is a totally involuntary reaction, but make sure you are fully on the ball as much as you can. Phone interviews vary in length, from anything from 20 minutes up to an hour, so it can make it doubly difficult.
Make sure your telephone manner is on point. This is a relatively subjective point to make, but ensuring that you talk at a reasonable pace and you a clear on the phone will vastly improve your chances. This comes back to being calm during the interview and not trying to bombard everything you've got to offer into your first answer. If you know you're a fast talker or a mumbler, make sure you try and avoid these speech traits, not that it will stop you getting the position, but you don't want to make it harder for the interviewer to justify putting you through to the next stage.
If you're unsure about any interviews you've got coming up, check out our Interview Reviews section to see if someone has already gone through the same process and has some worldly advice for you.
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