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Telephone Interviews. Not Always Easy


I have frequently heard clients make the comment, ‘Ah sure it’s only a telephone interview’, not giving the issue the importance it deserves.  It’s important to remember that an employer somewhere has a list of people to ring and has allocated 15 or 20 minutes each in an effort to create a shortlist. Tteley in the discussion asking a series of questions in rapid fire.

Put yourself in this persons shoes; at the end of a day, after a succession of phone interviews, will this person remember you above any of the others spoken to.  This person will have a handful of notes with boxes ticked and observations quickly penned in here and there.  You are just one of many.

That evening or the next day all the applications will be reviewed and the number of boxes ticked’ will be important. How many boxes did you tick? You and all the other applicants are faceless people, so why should yours stand out? You were just another voice at the end of the phone line.  Your job is to make sure it does.

Telephone interviews are one dimensional events.  You just hear a person speak.  Your voice, your intonation, your diction, and how you deliver your presentation will all go to forming an image of the person at the end of the phone. Therefore you must be clear, precise and above all, cheerful in your delivery.

It’s not sufficient to just have our C.V. laid out on the table in readiness for any question asked.  Reading an answer to any question will sound just like that; read.

Despite being on the telephone you must know the content of your C.V. thoroughly and only use the C.V. if you get stuck on a question.  However, if you are fully familiar with your career history and are properly prepared this should never happen.

When preparing for telephone interviews there are a few simple steps to take;

  1. Answer the call bright and cheerful. Say hello and thank the caller for ringing. Talk to the interviewer, don’t sit and just answer yes or no to questions asked.
  2. If taking the call from home, ensure the location is private and quiet for the duration of the call.  Children running around or a baby crying in the background won’t provide an air of professionalism.
  3. Choose a location so you will be facing a wall or similar blank location.  Facing a window may/will distract you and break your concentration.
  4. Have your C.V. spread out in front of you and not stapled.  Also have other relevant documentation such as the job specification and or other notes you may have prepared and laid out in front of you.  Keep a pen and notepad beside you for notes.
  5. Have information you may be asked about prepared such as referees and your diary in the event of being asked to attend a face to face interview.
  6. Have a glass of water to hand in case you dry up.
  7. If you are on Skype all the above applies in addition to:
    Check the view the caller will see behind you. The view behind you should be neutral or just blank.  Avoid distractions for the caller.
    Ensure your C.V. and notes are pinned immediately above the screen of your laptop or PC.  The caller won’t notice small eye movement when you quickly glance at notes just inches above the screen.  You should not be seen to have to consult notes on your desk at every question.
    Smile from time to time; it makes you so much more pleasant.

Further information about the author, Colm Cavey can be seen below and also at: www.jobdoctor.ie

Good Luck

Top Tips are provided by PCC, who provides professionally delivered, supportive and most importantly, successful career change and redeployment assistance to private clients from all sectors of Industry. While based in Ireland our on-line service extends to those overseas throughout the world. Inquiries are welcome and treated in the strictest confidence.    Tel: +353-86-3017207 & +353-1-2819056.