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How to Succeed in a Telephone Interview – Like a Pro

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

8 Tips for succeeding in your telephone interview like a Pro, right here.

In a face-to-face interview, the interview environment is normally out of your control – but in a telephone interview it’s usually you that sets it out. Where you hold the call, what surrounds you, the temperature, the lighting, the seating, etc. So use this opportunity as it’s well worth putting in a bit of preparation for your telephone interview.

  1. A Telephone Interview is an Interview, so treat it like one. Don’t participate in your shorts. Go into your interview in the same way you would an interview in person – do your research; dress smartly, this will put your mind in the right place. Several studies have each shown that dressing smartly has a positive impact on personal performance.
  2. Avoid distractions – hold the call in a quiet room, away from screens, music and pets (especially if you have a dig with a tendency to bark at almost anything). You wouldn’t watch a TV in a face-to-face interview, so why would you in a telephone interview? You wouldn’t bring your dog to meet your new boss, would you? (Except if you had a Assistance Dog.) Distractions can totally kill your concentration and quickly turn a great interview into an awful interview.
  3. Plan ahead -prepare a ‘crib sheet’. The advantage of a telephone interview is that you can refer to notes, so prepare some. Interviews are nerve-racking, and if you’re like me then there is a chance that the nerves will make you forget something – something of vital importance that you will kick yourself after the interview for forgetting. So a ‘crib sheet’ is your aide memoire – a list of questions or important points you want to make during the interview. It can be a list of anything – questions; a list of achievements; observations about the organization; your strengths and weaknesses; etc.
  4. Don’t let the tech let you down – if your call is being made from a cellphone, then for Pete’s sake make sure you’re in good coverage. Sometimes moving only a few yards away can make all the difference. And make sure that your battery has sufficient charge for the whole call. Running out of power is the worst thing that can happen as your phone can then take a good few minutes to power back up after you get it on charge. If possible, keep your phone on charge throughout the call – it’s the belt ‘n’ braces approach. If you’re using a laptop or tablet, the same applies, but with these you’re also at the mercy of your Internet connection. Imagine if that dropped, all of a sudden? If you live in an area with patchy Internet, then consider using your cellphone instead.
  5. Get comfortable – you can choose any chair to sit in, or stand up if that’s what you prefer. I recommend a desk in front of you. Choose a comfy chair. But don’t slouch. When you slouch, your jaw has less movement so your voice won’t be at its best. Your breathing is altered. It is a lazy posture. And this could well come through in the interview. Sitting in long interviews can give you, quite literally, a pain in the ass so stand up regularly and move around a little to keep your blood circulating and breathing constant.
  6. Be interesting. A telephone interview lacks the personal experience of a face-to-face interview. Therefore both you and your interviewer don’t experience each others body-language and facial expressions. They can be much less interesting. So pump up the interest factor by using one of these tactics to be more interesting. Obviously, use them appropriately for the interview setting.
  7. Talk to the interviewer. When I have had telephone interviews before, I found that it really helps to talk to a photo of the interviewer. Sounds goofy, but it works. If you can’t find a photo of the interviewer, then use a photo of anybody. Actually talking to the person whilst looking at the person will make your voice more natural and the interview will feel less awkward. Try it!
  8. Smile. OK so you’re not in the same room as your interviewer, but that doesn’t matter. A smile has many consequences to your mood, and to your voice. We human beings can tell the difference in vocal intonation between a smile and a non-smile, and amazingly, different types of smile. Smiling has an effect on how we speak – your interviewer will know if you’re smiling!

Hope these help you in totally rocking your telephone interview! Good luck!

Do you have a tip for telephone interviewees?

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This post is part 1 of 18 in the series Interview Preparation

About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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