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Great news! You’ve caught a potential employer’s attention and now they want to get to know you better with a telephone interview. This will be your first real shot to impress your interviewer and demonstrate that you are the right person for the job.

Companies are increasingly using phone interviews as an initial candidate screening method, and hopefully, once you’ve successfully passed this first step, you will be offered a face to face interview. So, with this in mind, what is your potential employer looking for during the first stage of the hiring process?

  • Does this candidate have a genuine interest in the role and the company?
  • Does the candidate match the core skills of the role?
  • Has this candidate done their homework?
  • Is the candidate suited to the company culture?

Beware, even highly capable candidates can be rejected at this early stage if they are not prepared or not used to speaking in a professional manner on the phone. So, while you may not be face to face with your interviewer, this is still a real interview and you will still need to prepare and be ready!

Read our top tips now to help you ace your phone interview!

1. Do your research and be specific about why you want the job

Take time to familiarise yourself with the company, get on Google, see what they’re doing and how they’re doing. Check out their social media, research your interviewer and company employees on LinkedIn. Does the company have a blog? Who are their competitors, what makes them different? Demonstrate why the company is a good fit with your career path.

2. Prepare your notes and practice your answers

The great thing about phone interviews is that you can arm yourself with your prepared notes, however, your interviewer will expect this so be sure to write your notes in bullet points rather than full sentences to avoid sounding too rehearsed. Yes, this is still an interview but it’s still important to show your personality, so sound conversational.

It’s also worth having your CV, cover letter and job description handy (whether in paper form, on your desk or laptop screen) so you can refer to this when questioned on your previous roles and experience.

3. Listen first, then talk!

Whilst you want to showcase your suitability for the job, it’s just as important to show your potential employer you’re good at listening too, so don’t dominate the conversation and especially don’t interrupt! Without non-verbal cues it can be difficult to gauge when it’s your turn to speak, so it helps to leave a short gap between questions and answers. When it’s your turn, be concise, speak clearly and confidently and resist the temptation to talk too much or quickly.

4. Be ready when the phone rings

Is your phone fully charged? Do you have good reception? This is your opportunity to showcase your best self and demonstrate your professional energy, you are not going to do this slouched on the sofa still in your pyjamas. So, get up and moving at least 30 minutes before the call, dress smartly, sit up or stand up straight and smile! (It is argued that you can actually tell if a person is smiling through the phone) Make sure you turn off the TV and radio, your interviewer will be able to sense your distraction and delayed responses if your eye keeps wandering to the screen. Be ready 10 minutes before the call to gain focus.

5. Ask thoughtful questions

Don’t underestimate the importance of your questions at the end of the call. These will reinforce your interest in the role and indicate to the interviewer what is important to you. Impressive, high value questions will leave a positive lasting impression with the interviewer.  Here are some good examples to start with:

  • How does the role relate to the overall structure of the company?
  • What tasks are really going to define success in this position?
  • What do you think are the most rewarding or gratifying aspects of working in this position?
  • What are the biggest challenges the successful candidate will face in this role over the next 6 months?

6. After the interview

Take some time after the phone interview to jot down any important points you want to remember. It might be a new product about to launch or the name of a person you want to reach out to. It’s always good practice to follow up with a note thanking the interviewer for their time, ideally on the same day. Sending a brief word of thanks simply shows that you appreciate the interviewer taking time out of their busy schedule to chat with you.

Now it’s over to you! Do you have any other hints and tips that you swear by? Not sure how to prepare for a specific kind of phone interview? Feel free to let us know over on our Twitter @MARSRecruitment

Need help preparing for a face to face interview? Check out our Interview Preparation Guide here