How to make the most of your telephone interview

This brief overview will ensure that your first conversation with your prospective employer is as successful as possible. Even if you are a seasoned candidate and you’ve had a number of successful interviews in the past, please take a few moments to read through the guidelines provided here for you. You’ll be surprised how often there will be something you can do more effectively.

Attitude is everything

Approach this meeting with the same formality as if it were a formal face-to-face meeting. Take it very seriously. After all, would you go to a formal interview without being prepared, dressed in the right clothing, or knowing exactly what you are going to say? You must also bear in mind that this will be very different to a face-to-face meeting, as the interviewer cannot see your expressions or sense your interest. You must communicate these verbally. The tone of your voice and the words you choose will play a large role in demonstrating your drive, personality and interest.

It is quite likely that the person interviewing you has done this many times before, and you might be very surprised just how much they can pick up from a telephone meeting. For example, if you are tired or distracted when you take the call, this may be far more evident than you might think.

Make sure you take time out to prepare for the meeting in detail with your Madison Mayfair consultant. They are in the best position possible to help you.

Get the logistics right

It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people get this wrong. Make sure you have the time and date of the call absolutely right. Make sure you are ready in advance of the meeting. Ensure that you know who you are speaking to, and if there is an agenda for the call, make sure that you have worked through it in advance. Most importantly, make sure that you are in a calm place with no distractions, and that the quality of the line you are talking on is good – we strongly recommend you use a landline, not a mobile.

Be prepared

Preparation is essential for a successful telephone interview. Remember, unlike a face-to-face meeting, you will have the opportunity to refer to your notes, preparation and research during the meeting, so spend time up front to make sure you are ready. Here are some key points to consider.

  • Re-read your CV and make sure you’re ready to answer any questions about it, including details of your achievements and contributions you have made to previous employers. Write some of these down along with key phrases you may wish to use when discussing what you’ve achieved. This is something we are usually less fluent at doing by phone.
  • Do some initial research on the company. Have a thorough look around the website and get an understanding for their culture, key markets and if possible business objectives.
  • Have a notepad and pen at the ready so that you can write down any questions and make notes during the meeting.
  • Also make sure that you have your diary to hand so that you can schedule any upcoming appointments which arise during the meeting.
  • Have a list of questions that you would like the interviewers to answer during the call. Having this list in place will ensure that the meeting flows well. Subjects which are useful to cover include; the company’s plan, key responsibilities of the role, career progression opportunities and the culture of the organisation.
  • You might even consider doing some research about the person or people who are going to interview you. Perhaps you could even be ready to ask them some questions about why they are part of the organisation and what attracted them to the role initially. This will help you to establish rapport with the interviewer – a key element of any successful meeting.

Set the right impression

First impressions count, and a telephone meeting is a perfect opportunity to make an impact. Although your interviewer cannot see you, your mood and demeanour can come across over the telephone very quickly and put you at an advantage.

  • Try smiling while you are talking to project your positivity. Stay calm. Be professional.
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke during the meeting. Have a glass of water to hand in case you get a dry throat.
  • Speak carefully and slowly into the mouthpiece. Remember that most people speak very quickly over the telephone. So relax.
  • Don’t forget to listen. Demonstrate that you have heard and understood your interviewer. Remember, the interviewer cannot see you nod or make other expressions, so you need to indicate your understanding/reaction verbally. Also, ask for clarification where you need it, especially when you feel unable to answer a question straight away.
  • Don’t be afraid to let the interviewer know that you need time to think. A silence over the telephone can feel long and awkward if left unexplained, but it certainly is acceptable.

Leave the meeting on the right note

Remember that the main objective of the telephone meeting is to proceed to the next stage in the assessment process. Make sure that before you close the discussion you get clarity from the interviewer as to be process, and make it very clear that you wish to move to the next stage.

If you feel positively about the opportunity, let the interviewer know.

  • Don’t forget to thank them for their time.
  • Ask how and when you will receive the next contact.
  • Make sure you call your Madison Mayfair consultant immediately following the meeting.