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Top tips to make the right impression when your interview is by phone.

Top tips to make the right impression when your interview is by phone

In today’s time poor world, a phone interview is often the first step in any interview process. Although less formal than a face to face one, they have their own set of rules and etiquette, so if you’re not familiar with them, here are some top tips to getting the balance right.


It’s all in the preparation

It may not feel as formal as a face to face one but a phone interview is definitely every bit as important so prepare as if it is. Research the company, the role, and also your interviewer and then decide on a couple of questions to ask at the end of the interview.

Why have a phone interview?

Phone interviews are often used as an initial, screening part of the interview process, usually to cut down the numbers to a shortlist of possible candidates who will then be invited to attend a face to face meeting. Alternatively, if the company headquarters is not local to you, you are moving to the UK from overseas, or even if the interviewer is not local to where the role will be based, you may only interview over the phone, so this could be your only chance to really sell yourself.

What to expect

Phone interviews will usually consist of a short set of questions, usually competency and/or strengthsbased, which the interviewer will ask all candidates so that they can judge each interviewee on the same level. Competency based questions mean you will be expected to provide an example of how you performed in certain situations, for example, how you worked effectively in a team to achieve a specific result.

However, more companies are now adopting a strengths-based interview approach. This focuses on finding out what kind of activities engage and inspire you. The theory being that when you are using your strengths, you perform at your best and also more rapidly learn new information.

Here are some tips to make the most of phone interviews:

  1. Think about your posture – don’t sit slouched on the sofa, if you’re at home. Sit as if you were in a face to face interview, or even stand up! This may sound odd but it improves your breathing and projection and will allow you to come across much better.
  2. Have your CV printed out so that you can refer to it. You might even want to have a few notes in front of you to keep your focus on skills and experiences you want to promote
  3. A common mistake with phone interviews is interrupting the interviewer. This is easily done as you cannot read their body language. Wait for them to finish what they are saying, then pause and provide the answer.
  4. Allow the interviewer to lead the way with the interview but remember as they draw it to a close to ask the questions you prepared, thank the interviewer for their time and remember to ask about the next stage of the process.
  5. Just because there is no visual interaction, you should still act as if you are in front of the interviewer – see below for some pointers!
  • If you're using a mobile phone, make sure you've got good reception - if possible use a landline instead.
  • Avoid sitting in front of laptop/tablet or the TV with the sound muted! Even just looking at a screen for a couple of seconds will make you pause, lose your thread, or get totally distracted. And you definitely shouldn’t be Googling the company mid interview!

In summary, take a phone interview as seriously as any form of face to face one and ensure you get the time to ask your questions too. If you want some practice then give us a call – the Park Street People team interview candidates by phone on a daily basis so we’re well versed in giving you some advice on this!