Kingpin’s tips for a successful telephone interview

Depending on your current location, the first interview with a potential employer may not be conducted in a traditional face-to-face setting. Initial interviews by phone are far more common than they used to be – busy calendars, widespread locations and an influx of applicants have contributed to this.

The global economy means that candidates and employees are looking across international borders for employment and employees. Typically, candidates don’t take telephone interviews as seriously as they would a face-to-face meeting with a potential employer. However, when it comes to international recruitment, the phone interview is perhaps the most important hurdle in the process, as it is this stage that can secure the all-important face-to-face meeting.

True, there’s no need to worry about travel arrangements, finding the office or ironing your suit; however, successful telephone interviews do require some careful planning.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Telephone interviews have their challenges, but with plenty of preparation, these challenges can be overcome. Candidates, you need to remember that you don’t have body language or eye contact on your side, so your verbal communication needs to be focused and precise.

Prior to the interview, ask how long the call will take, this allows you to prepare enough information to talk about throughout the duration of your interview – and also allows you to factor this time into your day, to ensure that the call does not need to be cut off early.

Next, find out as much as you possibly can about the company you are applying to work for, and the person interviewing you. The major advantage of a telephone interview is the ability to have all of your notes in front of you. Take advantage of being invisible to your interviewer by making notes that you can reference during your interview. It’s also a good idea to make a copy of your CV, the job description and any questions you want to ask.  Some of you may thrive in an interview setting, but for those who can find the experience a little flustering, having all of this information in front of you will make sure you don’t forget any crucial points.

Conducting your phone interview on the move doesn’t convey a great deal of professionalism, and gives the interviewer the impression that you haven’t prioritised their call or their time. Try to make sure you are somewhere with good reception, and in a place where disruption and background noise will be kept to a minimum. If you plan to carry out your interview from your current place of work – which is sometimes unavoidable - try to go somewhere that you won’t be disturbed, even if that’s your car, an unused room or a quiet place outdoors. If you’re easily distracted, remove any tempting items away from you – including laptops, iPads and mobile phones.

Always have a ‘Plan B’

Although technology is fantastic thing, it's reliability is often out of your control. If your interview will be conducted via your mobile phone, how would you cope if your network suddenly lost all coverage? Or, what if there was a power cut, rendering your landline useless? These scenarios are unlikely, but not unheard of, so make sure that you have a ‘Plan B’ should things go awry prior to your interview.

During the call

Even if you have the very best of intentions, what you say and how you say it can easily be misinterpreted – tone and your rate of speech can both play a part in this.  Remember to avoid using any colloquialisms, particularly during an international interview, as these may not translate as well as you had hoped!

The format of the interview will largely be led by the person interviewing you. However, it’s important that you take some control over the conversation and lead with answers and examples that are on topic, and provide additional information about your capabilities. Try to use the company‘s name and address the interviewer personally as much as possible, this will make the conversation feel more natural and assure your prospective employer that you have done your homework.

Now that you’re prepared and ready to give an impressive phone interview, don’t forget to request a time and date to meet face to face, and thank your interviewer – last impressions count too! 


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