The golden rules of phone interviews

Recruiters and employers use phone or online interviews to narrow down large volumes of applicants and ensure that you’re a credible and serious applicant before you’re invited for a face-to-face interview.

The good news is, if you get a call it means they like your CV, and it’s then up to you to convince them to move you to the next stage of the application process.

For some, the thought of a phone interview is terrifying, whilst others relish the idea of being able to hide behind their phones, but there are both disadvantages and advantages.

The reality is, if you’re going out into the job market, it’s likely that you will have to be on the receiving end of a telephone or Skype interview. Here’s how to use the situation to your advantage.

Be prepared

The best thing about phone interviews is that you can have your notes in front of you. Make sure you do your research on the company, read the job description fully and have your CV to hand.

Ask questions

Have questions prepared, but remember it’s not a full interview yet, just a screening process, so leave questions about salary and holidays to the next stage.

Scribble away

Take notes, so you can remember important points and go back to them later in the interview. It shows you’re listening and will help you be more concise and thoughtful with your answers.

Stay calm

Remember you can’t rely on visual cues like you can in a face-to-face interview. Listen and don’t talk over the interviewer, don’t rush with your answers, and smile – they’ll be able to hear it.

Don’t have technology issues

This is a big no-no. Ensure that your phone has enough charge and you’re somewhere with good signal, or with good wifi if you’re conducting the interview over Skype or other online services.

Don’t get distracted

Find somewhere private and quiet so you can concentrate – a coffee shop isn’t ideal. Neither is being interrupted by your cat walking over your keyboard, the television in the background or your housemate / children / pets making a noise.

Be professional

It can be tempting to be a little more informal over the phone, especially if you’re lounging around on the sofa in your pyjamas. Sit up straight, introduce yourself when you answer the phone, don’t eat, and remember to conduct yourself as if you were in a face-to-face interview. Some people like to wear interview clothes to get themselves in the right frame of mind.

Finally, a note on surprise phone interviews.

If you get a call out of the blue, there’s nothing wrong with saying you’re on the way to a meeting, and asking to reschedule for a time when you can give the interview the attention it deserves. The trick with phone interviews is to be prepared, so this buys you some time.