Performance Preparation

How to Ace your Telephone Interview

Telephone interview
Written by Jonathan

Telephone interviews are becoming more popular as a way of screening potential candidates. They are quick and easy, saving everyone time and money.

Telephone interviews are just another part of the interview process. Another part that has to be mastered to ensure you stand out as the right candidate. How do you ensure that you ‘ace’ your telephone interview?

Here’s your Ace your Telephone Interview Checklist

1. Preparation

Treat the telephone interview with the same importance as you would a face to face interview. You will not get to see an interview face to face without succeeding at the telephone interview.

Advance preparation is important. That means that you’ve researched the questions you’re likely to be asked (21 Most Common Interview Questions) and prepared answers to them (Answering Interview Questions – 5 Golden Rules). Research the organisation and the interviewer and have some questions ready to ask them at the end of the call.

2. The Right Time for the Call

Always try and arrange a telephone interview for when you’re likely to be at your most energetic. For many that’s first thing in the morning. For others it’s later in the day.

But remember that the distractions of the day can get in the way of how you feel and how an interviewer is before a call. It’s best to try and minimise any of this issues by doing it first thing in the morning.

3. Landline v Mobile

If at all possible I’d recommend using a landline telephone. Why? Because the quality of the telephone line will be better.

We’ve all experience those moments when on mobile phone has a poor signal, just when we don’t need it. So using a landline should always be your first choice.

Now I know that isn’t always possible, so if you are going to use your mobile phone make sure you’re in an area with good signal.

4. Be Ready for the Call

Be ready for the telephone interview at least 15 minutes in advance. Too many times interviewees are not ready for the call when it comes. They act surprised.

When you answer the phone remember to give the interviewer a great first impression. I’ve had calls with candidates who answer ‘Hello?’ and ‘Yeah?’ Not a great start.

So when answering the phone, I recommend saying ‘Good morning/afternoon [enter your name]’. This comes across as professional and the interviewer will feel that you are someone to take seriously.

5. Smile

Years ago my first sales trainer said ‘Smile as you dial, don’t groan as you phone.’ I know. It’s a little bit twee, but the principle of it stands. If you smile on the phone the person at the other end will hear it. It’s a small thing that can make a big difference. Try it.

6. Stand Up

This was another tip from my early sales training. Standing up increases your energy, increases your blood flow and makes you feel more confident. This is one of those occasions when you need to be at your most confident, so try it. Stand up when you’re on the phone to the interviewer. You will feel more confident, I guarantee it.

7. The Right Place

Find somewhere quiet. Somewhere where there are no interruptions or lots of background noise. Too many times on telephone interviews I can hear background noise – either of an office or a café. A telephone interview is important. The last thing you need is for the sound around you to be a distraction.

8. CV/Resume

Have a printed copy of your CV/Resume in front of you, so that you can refer to it if you need to. Don’t rely on your memory to get you through. Our memories have a habit of letting us down when we need them the most. So have a printed copy in front of you.

9. Pen & Paper

This one seems obvious. Having a pen and paper in front of you allows you to make notes about key points you want to get across to an interviewer.

10. Questions & Answers

Like all interviews, you’ll be asked questions and expected to give answers. If you’ve done your Preparation in advance you’ll be well on your way to being successful on the telephone interview.

It’s important to listen to what the interviewer is saying or asking. Do not assume. Concentrate on listening to them and making your answers relevant.

Do not rush to answer the question, take your time. I do not mean waiting any more than a second or two to answer (if you do it’ll come across as odd). By waiting you are allowing your brain to give you the most appropriate answer.

Before answering take a breadth. This will help minimise ‘Ums’ and ‘Ers’. Make sure you’re succinct and to the point.

11. Follow up

After the telephone interview follow up with a thank you email. Highlight the value you will bring to the role and overcome any objections that the interviewer may have had on the call. Most interviewees don’t follow up. If you do, you’ll stand out.

Following these steps will help you ‘Ace’ your telephone interview. You’ll stand out as someone an interviewer will want to see for a face to face interview.

QUESTION: Which of the above tips has been the most useful for you?


YES! I want to stand out at interviews.

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