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Telephone interviews - How to get the best out of them

28 Feb 2013 by Sarah Leembruggen.
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You’re expecting a call from a recruiter. Some planning and a bit of common sense should get you through. But glance over our checklist to be sure you’ve covered everything:

Do your prep

Don’t try to blag it. Prepare for a phone interview in the same way as you would for a face-to-face. Assume you’ll be asked detailed questions about your work history and some competency-based questions about some situations you’ve handled at work.

Use notes 

As it’s not a face-to-face, you can have your CV and information about the company or anything else you’d like to refer to, in front of you. Write notes on your CV or on a separate sheet, to prompt you. You may want to jot down phrases to incorporate, examples of your successes and achievements, return on investment, or questions about the job....keep it natural - you’re not reading a script.

Create a connection

It’s difficult to make the same impression when there are no visual cues like eye contact and body language, so you’re reliant on the sound and tone of your voice. Sound enthusiastic, motivated and positive – smile while you’re speaking or stand up. Avoid long pauses – when there’s no eye-contact, silences can be misconstrued. If you need time to think, let the interviewer know by repeating the question thoughtfully or using a filler phrase like: ‘...that’s a good question,’ or ‘... let me think about that.’ Keep the use of ‘ummm’ and ‘errrr’ to a minimum. 

Listen and respond 

The interview will be lead by the recruiter, who may have a list of pre-prepared questions to go through. The call may not flow like a natural conversation but keep your responses as energetic and engaged as you can. Remind yourself to be succinct. It’s easy to ramble on when you don’t have the normal visual hints to tell you when to stop. 

Phone etiquette

The interview begins when the phone rings, and ends when you put it down. Speak clearly and use your name when you pick up the call; it sounds assertive and professional. During the call remain formal and don’t lapse into slang or colloquialisms. Apologise if you speak over the interviewer. Close the call formally.  

Personalise your voicemail

Your voicemail greeting should contain your name and number. If the recruiter calls and you can’t answer, they can be confident they’re leaving a message for the right person. Personalised voicemail also forms an impression of someone who is professional, confident and organised.

Basic but important 

Arrange to take the call at a time when you won’t be interrupted. If you’re using a mobile, find somewhere that has a good signal. Make sure your phone has sufficient charge. Choose somewhere that is quiet with no background noise and no distractions.

Do you love or loathe telephone interviews? Share your thoughts @theworksrecruit

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