Tips for telephone interviews

Telephone interviews are fairly common in the working world, so it’s likely you’ll have to do one at some point in your career. All the more reason to get prepared! You might be a bit nervous for your phone interview, but there’s nothing to worry about; YoungCapital is here to help you out. From preparing for a telephone interview, to dealing with phone interview questions, to what questions you need to ask, we’ve got all the answers. Stick with us, read through our tips, and you’ll be a telephone interview expert before you know it.

What is a phone interview?

A telephone interview is pretty much what it says on the tin: an interview over the phone. Rather than have you come in to the office or workplace, the interviewer will give you a call and ask you their questions remotely. It might seem strange not to have a face-to-face interview, but it can actually be pretty beneficial. From the interviewer’s point of view, it saves them time, effort, and money, as they can get the call done quicker than having you come in.

As a candidate, telephone interviews can also be better than an in-person interview because you can do it from a comfortable spot. It can be scary going into a big, fancy office, especially if it’s early in your job-hunt life. Taking a call from the comfort and safety of your home can help get rid of some of those pesky interview nerves that might hold you back. There can be pros and cons to phone interviews, but they’re really no better or worse than any other type of interview.

A phone interview is often confused with a phone screen interview, but there is a bit of a difference between them. A phone screening is a quick phone call to make sure that you’re roughly suitable for the role. An interview, on the other hand, is to decide if you’re the most suitable candidate for it. A recruiter is usually the one conducting a phone screening, and an interview is typically done by a hiring manager. You can still ask plenty of questions to a recruiter during a phone screen to see if the company suits you too. Just don’t take too long, as this is supposed to be just a quick call to review your history and skills.

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5 tips on preparing for a telephone interview

So, what’s different about how to prepare for a phone interview? Well, it’s not too different to a face-to-face one, there are just a few adjustments you need to make. We’ve gathered our top tips for phone interviews so you can prepare with ease.

1. Pick a nice, quiet spot

Because you’re not going to be sitting in an office meeting room, it’s important to choose a good spot of your own for the interview. Phone calls aren’t always great for keeping your attention, so try to keep distractions to a minimum. A quiet room where you won’t be interrupted by other people is ideal. Don’t have too many distractions or knick-knacks to fiddle with; you want to keep as much of your attention as possible on the telephone interview.

2. Make notes beforehand

The advantage of a telephone interview is that no one can see you or what you’re doing. Use that to your advantage and write some notes to have handy. You can jot down information about the company or the interviewer so you don’t forget their name, for example. Or, write down some talking points or question answers that you prepared in advance. Stick to bullet points, though; an interviewer will be able to tell if you’re reading off an answer.

3. Dress to impress anyway

It might seem strange, but putting on a proper outfit for your phone interview can help you mentally prepare. Let’s be real – taking a call in your fluffy pyjamas won’t make you feel very work-appropriate. You can easily trick your brain into getting in the professional zone by throwing on a blazer or a tie. Make sure you brush your hair and teeth too, to make yourself feel fresh and awake.

4. Practise, practise, practise

The easiest tip for getting used to phone interviews is to practise it beforehand. Call up a friend or family member and have them run through a mock interview with you. They can give you pointers on how your answers sound and how they could be improved. Don’t forget to practise how you answer the call and introduce yourself for a phone interview – first impressions matter!

You can also keep an eye on your body language, which plays a surprisingly important role even in a telephone interview. Standing up tall makes you feel more confident, and smiling will be heard in your tone of voice. It’s easy to feel anxious during an interview, but there are plenty of ways to beat the nerves. Try them for yourself!

5. Don’t stress – it’s not that deep

While it may seem like telephone interviews have a whole new set of rules, they’re not that different to regular in-person ones. So, you can follow the same kind of preparations for an interview that you normally would, with just a few tweaks. Be present, be polite, be prepared, and you can’t really go wrong. How you answer the call is a good opportunity to set a great first impression. And send a thank-you email after your phone interview, just like you would for any other.

Following these tips will have you on the road to success in your telephone interview. The main thing to remember is that preparation is key, so don’t leave it all to the last minute.

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Phone interview questions

You might be wondering if there are special questions asked during a telephone interview. The answer is: not really. The purpose of the interview isn’t any different to a standard face-to-face one, so the questions don’t really change that much. Some common phone interview questions include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • How do you deal with stressful situations?

If you want to prepare yourself for more possible questions, check out our full interview questions article. We’ve got a bunch of examples of questions and answers for interviews, whether it’s phone-based or not. But you don’t need to worry; the questions and answers for a telephonic interview aren’t majorly different from any other circumstance.

Telephone interviews: in short

Telephone interviews are a popular way for interviewers to meet with candidates remotely. It’s likely that you’ll have at least one at some point in your life, so it’s wise to be prepared in advance. Preparing for a telephone interview isn’t all that different from a regular one. There are just a few tricks to remember:

  • Find a nice quiet spot.
  • Make some notes to have on hand.
  • Dress as if you’ll see them in-person.
  • Practice makes perfect.
  • Don’t worry too much – it’s not that different.

The questions to ask or be asked in a phone interview aren’t very different to any other kind of interview. If you’re curious, or have been offered an alternative format, check out our tips on online interviews and panel interviews as well. Have you not been offered an interview yet? You might need to spruce up your CV a bit. In which case, you should check out our CV tips! Try out our free CV builder to maximise your chances of getting offers.

FAQs about telephone interviews

  • How long do phone interviews last?

  • How long a telephone interview is depends a lot on the interviewer you have and the position you’re applying for. Telephone interviews are usually shorter than in-person interviews. Typically, they don’t run longer than an hour, but it can vary a lot, so block out a good chunk of time in your calendar.

  • What should you not ask in a telephone interview?

  • There aren’t any set telephone interview questions that you should avoid; it all depends on the job you’re going for. There are some guidelines on general interview questions that you should and shouldn’t ask which can also be applied to phone interviews. Stick to those and you should be golden.

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