A 10-point checklist for mastering your next telephone interview - Recart
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Interview Tips

A 10-point checklist for mastering your next telephone interview

The sound of a ringtone doesn’t have a good rep these days, does it: What’s happened?! Is it my 1,000th PPI call today?!!

So, when you’re invited for a telephone interview, do you feel a wave of euphoria? Or…. Do you dread the prospect of awkward silences and second-guessing what the other guy is thinking?

Recart’s recruitment consultants call and interview job-seekers on a daily basis, and many of our clients use telephone calls as part of a multi-stage interview process. Here are our 10 pointers for success:

1. Take it Seriously

Okay, so you can pitch yourself for a management job whilst in your pajamas – but it’s still a formal interview. Show respect and take the call in quiet surroundings. Nothing turns off an interviewer more than a noisy background; it implies you’re not taking it seriously. Also, ensure you have some breathing space before the interview time; be ready in case the phone rings five minutes early.

2. Revise your CV

Have your CV to hand, along with a copy of the job description or information sent to you by a recruiter. Your interview is likely to feature a run-through of your CV. Have some notes to hand with examples from your experience that relate to the job for which you’re applying.

3. Research the Company

So often, a candidate with strong experience and qualifications can fall down because they don’t show the necessary enthusiasm for the opportunity; they are unable to convincingly explain their motivation for joining the business.

4. Clear the Airwaves

When you take the call, make sure any other phones and tablets you have are switched off or on silent; your interviewer won’t be impressed by text and social media notifications chiming up in the background!

5. Speak Clearly

Not being able to see you will draw extra attention to the tone of your voice. Don’t hunch over, don’t rush, and don’t hog the call. Adopt a positive posture and… smile! Okay, they can’t see you, but doing this adds a positive and upbeat vibe to your voice.

Vintage phone on a wooden table

6. Don’t be Afraid of Silence

Silence at the end of a point you’re making is not necessarily a negative; your interviewer needs time to digest your answer and make notes. Don’t panic and resume talking; by repeating yourself, you’ll start waffling and weakening the strength of your point. And don’t rush into your answers; if the question isn’t clear, or you need to buy some time to think, just ask for it to be repeated, or reply with “By…, do you want me to explain…..”.

7. Less is More

Keep your answers succinct and to the point – don’t try too hard. Consider the following formula for addressing an example from your work experience: achievement – context – action. Quantify your achievements. Don’t be the 1000th applicant with “proven communication skills”; be the guy who delivered a pitch to 10 retail managers and won £5,000 worth of business.

8. Be Honest

Don’t blag it. Integrity, or an evident lack of it, is a crucial factor in any hire. If you are pushed on a skill that you don’t have, just say so – before going on to explain why this is an area in which you’d like to develop and learn.

9. Present Yourself as a Positive Influence

One of the most common reasons for interview rejection is being negative about a former employer/manager/colleague/job. This will only reflect badly on you; you will appear a negative influence. Instead, focus on what you learnt, how you were proactive and sought to make a positive impact. End your answer by looking to the future, positively.

10. Demonstrate Your Enthusiasm

Don’t appear uninterested by playing it cool, or too safe, on the telephone. And underline your interest in the opportunity by asking questions – don’t ask about materialistic issues such as money, holidays, or pensions; ask about the atmosphere, the team, the company’s values, why your interviewer joined the company, and a question that demonstrates you’ve researched the business’s website.

11. Say You Want the Job!

Don’t take the perception of your interest for granted; the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. Before you say goodbye, confirm that you’re still very much interested in the opportunity and hope to progress to a face-to-face interview. Finally, thank the interviewer for their time and say you look forward to hearing from them.

P.S. It’s good to talk…, but don’t say “I love you” by accident at the end.


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