Five secrets to a successful telephone job interview

You’ve got a telephone interview! That means you can sit in your pants with a whisky, right? If your answer to that question was in any way ‘yes’, then you might want to pay attention to the following tips

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Put some decent clothes on

Getting changed just to answer the phone may feel silly, but the way you’re dressed really does affect your telephone manner. You don’t necessarily have to go all out and wear a suit and tie, but at least dress smartly so that you feel more professional and are more likely to think you actually deserve this job. Let’s face it; if you’re sitting around in your pyjamas then you’re unlikely to be at your most alert.

Similarly, smiling while your answering the phone can give the impression that you’re friendly and approachable. This obviously isn’t always appropriate, so judge it based on the role that you’re going for, but having a warm, welcoming and professional voice rarely does anyone any harm.

Charge your phone

This is a common error. You really don't want to be scrambling around trying to find your charger mid-interview, so make sure your phone’s fully charged and working in advance. If you’ve got any doubts at all about whether your mobile is picking up all of your calls, then just give out a landline number and make sure you’re waiting by the phone a few minutes early.

Keep your CV and notes nearby

One great advantage of a telephone job interview is that you can refer to notes throughout and the employer will be none the wiser. Before the interview, think of answers to the questions that you’re likely to be asked and then keep them in front of you – this will let you present a pre-prepared answer as a new one.

Also make sure you’ve got a copy of your CV and covering letter nearby, so that you can refer back to any claims you’ve made.

Distance yourself from distractions

Turn the TV off, unplug the phone (not the one you’ll be using, obviously) and generally make sure you’re not going to be distracted by anything for the next few minutes. Try to find a quiet place in the house where you can hide away and make sure that your children / housemates are far away or at least unlikely to come knocking. Also, try to make sure that your telephone interview has been scheduled for a very specific time (say, 10am-10.30am) so that you’re not only prepared, but are also likely to have minimal distractions.

Practice and stay calm

Like any job interview, try to practice your answers in advance so that you’re not only less likely to be caught by surprise, but will also feel more confident in your responses.

It’s also worth remembering a few other basic tips about how telephone job interviews differ from face-to-face conversation. Slow your speech down slightly and speak more clearly to ensure that there are no miscommunications on the phone, and remember that your interviewer will not be able to see any of your body language, so think carefully before making any light-hearted comments that could potentially be misinterpreted.

Finally, attempt to take notes while on the phone or immediately after the interview ends. Write down any information that you picked up and answers that you gave, as this will all come in handy should you progress to the next stage of your job hunt.