Maxwell Stephens

Perfecting the Telephone Interview

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More than ever, employers are requesting a telephone interview as a precursor to a face to face interview. We have put together five steps for you to follow when it comes to perfecting a conversation over the phone with a potential employer.


1. Take it Seriously

The worst mistake made is to think it will be an informal chat and therefore to not be properly prepared. In reality the interviewer will want to undertake a structured interview and may be speaking to a number of candidates and comparing between those they speak to. Be prepared, be professional, speak clearly, and ensure you structure your responses. It is fine to take a short pause before you answer a question so that you can formulate your response.


2. Find a Quiet Place

You absolutely do not want to be interrupted, have poor signal, or background noise. Make sure you arrange a quiet place to speak in advance and arrive there a few minutes before the call is scheduled to start. Make sure you have plenty of charge if you are using a mobile phone.


3. Keep Your CV Close

The main advantage of a telephone interview is that you can’t be seen, which means if you feel you want to look at your CV or the job spec, you can. I would still strongly advise you to be prepared to the point where you do not expect to need to look at the documents, but you can have them there in case.  


4. Ask Questions

This is no different to a face to face interview in that you should consider everything you want to know about the role in advance and jot down some questions. Whilst some of these will naturally be answered during the call, make sure you ask a couple of engaging questions if you have time at the end.


5. Next Steps

Don’t feel like you are being pushy to ask what the next steps in the process are. Obviously this is likely to be a face to face interview, but perhaps you are interested to understand who might be on that interviewer panel, or when they might take place. Obviously try and be as subtle as possible with this particular line of enquiry. If you feel the interview has not gone as well as you had hoped, it might be best to avoid asking about next steps.



One of the biggest candidate failures is not treating a telephone interview seriously; being ill prepared and thinking they can do it in the canteen in their lunch break. Whilst for some candidates a telephone interview seems impersonal as a first meeting with a new employer, there is no getting away from them. They are gaining popularity and in fact it gives an organisation an opportunity to screen more potential candidates more quickly; which should be a good thing for all.


Need tips on perfecting your CV before you go for that all-important interview? Download our eBook ‘The Perfect CV – Questions, Answers and Tips’

The Perfect CV - Questions, Answers and Tips

The Perfect CV – Questions, Answers and Tips

The job search is increasingly simple. Online search engines such as Google, social media engines such as LinkedIn and jobs boards such as and Monster have left candidates with an array of jobs to choose from like which they have never seen before.

The CV stage is somewhat harder. The CV is one of the two most important short documents of your career, it can make it, or it can break it.

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