Things to avoid in a telephone interview

The telephone interview is a crucial stage of the application process for many leading graduate recruiters. The questions are often similar to those asked face-to-face, but it definitely takes a unique set of skills to master selling yourself on them.

Make every opportunity count

With this in mind, here are five things to remember when it comes to that all important phone call. 

1. It’s still an interview

Often a telephone interview is preceded by the idea that it's ‘informal’. While this can be true, it does not mean you can throw colloquialisms and slang around like you're mid-conversation with your best friend. 

The reality is, a telephone call is a great way of sifting out the serious contenders from the pretenders – usually in less than 15 minutes.

2. It starts as soon as you pick up the phone

Let me elaborate. Imagine you have seen an opportunity of interest and you decide to call up to find out more. It may only be a speculative phone call but remember, first impressions count. Make sure you have read the job description properly so that you can be transferred, if necessary, to the right person. 

Also, treat whomever you speak to with the same respect as you would do the interviewer. It takes one flippant comment or a seemingly arrogant attitude to quash your chances before they have even begun. 

3. Don’t forget what you’ve applied for

This is such a simple rule, yet you’d be surprised how many people stumble on something very simple. If you're applying for many roles, make sure you manage your time, so you know who's calling and when.

With this in mind, when you get a call at 10:30 on a Wednesday, make sure you're up in plenty of time, know the name of the person who's calling and you’ve done your research. Otherwise it gives the impression you are unable to organise your affairs and that you're blasé about the job application process. 

In short, it suggests you’re the wrong candidate for the role. 

4. Be Concise

This isn't just attributable to a phone interview, but it does take on more significance in this particular instance. Choose your answers carefully, just because your interviewer can’t see you, it doesn’t mean they are not paying attention. 

Also, don’t surround yourself with post-it notes thinking that you can shoehorn every bit of information possible into the call. Chances are, it won’t last much longer than 15 minutes, so don’t waffle. 

Remember, you’re selling yourself in the best way possible to someone who hasn’t met you.

5. Beware of your surroundings

How many times have you witnessed someone get cut off mid-conversation because they decided to answer a phone whilst going underground? Maybe you’ve been on the receiving end? 

Don’t be that person. If you have a scheduled telephone call, make sure you're somewhere quiet, with good phone reception and no distractions. Don’t take a call while you’re still in bed as it’s likely your lethargy will be obvious to the interviewer.

Get in the zone and prepare in the same way as you would for any other interview.


Next: 7 hints and tricks for your video interview