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How to ace a phone interview

Phone interviews are fast becoming the norm and are a great way for an employer to make an initial assessment about a candidate. We asked our recruitment consultants for their guidance on making a lasting first impression to help get you through to the next stage of the application process.

  • Be punctual, organised and always answer the call

Treat a phone interview as if you were meeting the interviewer in person. Similar to getting to an interview early, ensure you are ready to answer the call before your pre-arranged time, just in case they decide to call a little earlier than expected. Have a notepad ready along with your CV and the job spec. This can give you a quick point of reference for any questions they might ask.

  • Be aware of your surroundings

Nick Catterall, our Client Development Director says “Make sure you’re in a quiet, noise free room with good signal where possible. If you’re going to be driving for whatever reason whilst the interview takes place, it is a good idea to give the interviewer a heads up so they know your signal may drop off. It leaves a good impression, showing you’ve thought ahead.”

  • Don’t rush it

Our recruiters have observed that many candidates can feel flustered on the phone, leading them to talk rapidly and come across as if they’re eager to get the conversation over and done with. If this is you, take a deep breath and consciously talk slower and clearly so that your key points don’t gets missed.

  • Make a list of talking points

Before your phone interview, take a good look at the job spec and make a note of the key traits they’re looking for in their ideal candidate. Link these points to real life situations so that if the conversation comes to a standstill, you have a lifeline to fall back on. You could say, for example, “I noticed the job spec mentions about having the ability to multitask.” Then go on to tell them about how you managed three different projects at once and how successful they were. Of course, change this to suit your experience and the role.

  • Be positive

Your interviewer will make an assessment based on what you say, but the way you say it can often be just as important, reflecting your personality. If you come across as enthusiastic and positive, you’ll leave a great first impression, so be confident with what you’re saying and believe you are the right person for the job.

  • Do your research

Like with any interview, it is important to do your research. It demonstrates you’re committed to the role and will give you plenty to talk about. Ben Ward, one of our permanent recruitment consultants says, “Keep it conversational, asking questions based on what the interviewer says to show you are really listening and engaged.” If you’ve done your research this shouldn’t be too difficult.

  • Be ready to think on your feet

We all know the typical generic interview questions. “What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?” But some interviewers like to think outside the box so they can really assess your ability to do the job and personality fit with the rest of the team. Have some answers prepared for more challenging questions. Take a look at our advice on answering interview questions here.

  • Be honest, face the difficult questions & breathe

It’s important to be honest in any interview. If there are any issues, questions or queries you have, i.e. if there is any travel included, here is your opportunity to find out. Remember you are assessing if they are the right employer for you, as well as the other way around. Daniel Turner, one of our Senior Recruiters says, “Always ask if there is anything they think you are lacking for the role, or anything that we haven’t covered in this conversation that you would like to discuss? This gives you the chance to address any concerns the employer may have. Very often the candidate will have the answers but it just isn’t highlighted in their application, plus it speeds up the process”.

If you’re relaxed then you’re more likely to show the best version of yourself. So have a glass of water on hand for those dry voice moments, relax and, of course, breathe. You can do this!

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