How to prepare for a telephone interview

The hiring interview is already a daunting exercise in itself, but telephone interview can be even more scary. However, with a bit of preparation, you can impress the recruiter and get the job, or at least move to the next step of the process – the face-to-face appointment. 6 tips to persuade your future employer by telephone.


Think of it like a conventional interview

A telephone interview is not much different from being face to face with the recruiter. It is just as important and can even fail you, and you are entitled to the same questions. So don’t take them lightly. The two main differences are fatigue and inattention. It is more difficult to stay focused for long periods on what the speaker is saying when you can’t see them and are unable to evaluate their reactions. You can also tire more quickly, precisely because of the effort it takes to focus. But aside from that, you need to prepare exactly as for a face-to-face interview.

Pay attention to your appearance

“Why?,” you ask. The recruiter cannot see you, so it can seem pointless to prepare the same way as for a meeting in person. But although you might dispense with your tie or high heels, professional attire, proper hair style and appropriate makeup can help boost your self-confidence by reminding you that you are a high-performance professional. This is especially useful if you have been looking for a job for a while and this is your first interview for several months – it’s good to take every advantage. From a practical point of view, the speaker could suggest switching to a video conference…  Don’t take the risk of being surprised in your pyjamas!

Be in good shape

No question of taking the call on a café terrace or in the middle of a party with friends. Lock yourself into a quiet place, for example a room in your home that can serve as an office, and eliminate all extraneous noise: no crying baby, spinning washing machine, background music, interruptions half way through…  Although a formal telephone interview is usually scheduled in advance, allowing you to take precautions, your potential employer can sometimes take you unawares. In this case, don’t hesitate to ask him if you can call back later, explaining that it’s not the best time (if you’re on the bus, for example). He will understand – it’s better to postpone it a few hours than risk being cut off or unable to concentrate.

Be prepared

You should never arrive at an interview, even by phone, unprepared. Have your resume and letter of introduction in front of you, especially if you have been a good student and adapted these documents to the position in question. This will help you when the recruiter asks questions about your background and prevent you from getting confused, for example if you had omitted experience that is irrelevant to what the company is looking for. Also, have on hand everything about the company: the job offer to jog your memory, and also the results of your research (general information, news, values, etc.). Finally, have something at hand for writing to avoid the speaker having to repeat themselves, and take notes of questions you might want to ask at the end of the interview.

Compensate for the lack of body language

A large part of human communication is done through body language. In an interview, you can arrange yourself so it works in your favour, by leaning forward to indicate your interest, sitting straight to show you are serious, etc.  On the telephone, you do not have this advantage. This can also be a relief since you do not have the risk that the recruiter could misinterpret your gestures. It is a factor of reduced stress. But this means that you should show more energy and enthusiasm to compensate. Smile, it will be heard in your voice. Don’t hesitate to gesticulate if that’s your habit; even if no one will see you, your speech will seem more natural. And if you need time to think, don’t just be silent; on the telephone it can create an uncomfortable situation, leading to, “Are you still there?” Gain time by saying, for example, “That’s an interesting question, let me think about it….”

Prepare your answers

In principle, as far as questions are concerned, you can expect the usual questions for a hiring interview, which means that it is quite easy to prepare yourself. There is rarely a trap. What are you interested about in the job? Why do you want to become one of our team? What are your main faults? Your qualities? Can you clarify this point on your resume? Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years? These are just as important to be able to answer, whether face-to-face or by telephone. And this preparation work will never be wasted – even if you are not hired this time, its good practice for your next attempt.

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