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How to ace a telephone 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 great first impression and get 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, First's Client Development Director, says “Make sure you’re in a quiet room with good signal. If you’re going to be driving whilst the interview takes place, it is a good idea to give the interviewer a heads up so they know what's happening if your signal drops - this also shows forward thinking.”
Several of our recruiters observed that candidates often 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.
Oil & Gas Recruitment Consultant Lewis Bowdler recommends speaking about real life examples of your successes. "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."
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.
Andrew Curran, Senior Recruitment Consultant here at First says, “Keep it conversational, asking questions based on what the interviewer says shows that you're listening and are engaged.”
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.
Our Permanent Delivery Manager, Stephen Clarke says, “Always ask if there is anything they think you are lacking for the role, or if anything hasn't been covered in the conversation that they 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 just don't get asked the questions so never get chance to discuss them, and it often speeds up the process”.
"Their knowledge of the industry, our organisation and candidates is one of the leaders in the market. They have always been able to supply us with the right calibre of engineering candidate no matter what the discipline or regional location is.
"First Recruitment Group’s service delivery has always been to a high standard and the customer service provided by the team has ensured that First Recruitment Group will remain a preferred supplier of engineering personnel to WorleyParsons on our future engineering projects."
"In my dealings with First I have found them to be responsive, knowledgeable, quality-focused and engaging in their approach. I would have no hesitation in recommending the services of First Recruitment Group to any prospective customers."
Global Engineering Consultancy
"We have a good working relationship with First Recruitment and they always put every effort in to filling our positions whether it's on a permanent or contract basis. First have an honest and open approach to recruitment and their clients which is refreshing. First offer an excellent payroll service which compliments their overall delivery service to MWH Treatment."
“As the biggest services supplier to the nuclear industry our demand for personnel is significant, when I have an urgent requirement I know I can rely on First Recruitment to rise to the challenge.
“As a preferred supplier for temporary labour and a fundamental part of our permanent recruitment process we get the right people at the right time. Whether its highly technical/specialist resources or back office support personnel the approach is to the same high standard.”
Veolia Nuclear Solutions
"It’s great to work with a recruitment agency we trust. The team at First Recruitment Group are friendly and straight talking and they continue to provide an excellent service. We’re proud to still be working with them after 20 years."
Simon Carves Engineering Ltd
"First Recruitment are on the 1st Tier of Sweett Europe’s preferred supplier list. We have found First recruitment to be hugely supportive and value adding partners to Sweett, helping us source a wide range of roles. The consultants at First are hugely knowledgeable and have a real desire to listen to, and understand, our needs. They have shown an unrivalled desire to work on hard to fill roles using innovative methods to ensure they always supply us with CVs.
"I have been hugely impressed by their willingness to support us, even when we have simply been after guidance which would not attract them a fee. I would be more than happy to recommend First Recruitment Group to any prospective organisation, and to discuss in more detail their capabilities."
“We’ve worked with First Recruitment for over 12 years and have built up a great relationship with their team. They’ve helped us in sourcing contractors for our chemical division, maintaining consistently high standards in delivery, and we hope to continue building on this relationship in the future. I have no hesitation in recommending First to others.”
Haden Freeman Limited
"We have used First Recruitment to support the recruitment of several key roles within our business. The quality of the candidates put forward were extremely high which helped enormously in our ability to fill all roles, also the candidates have all been a success since joining our business. They were prompt, knowledgeable and very professional and made the recruitment process for us extremely simple. The service we have received has been first class and I would highly recommend the services of First Recruitment to any Company looking to fill a vacancy."
Meadow Vale Food Group
“I have worked with First Recruitment frequently over the last couple of years. Their ability to understand our business and support me in terms of recruitment has been excellent. Candidates are screened initially to meet our requirements and taken through the process in a professional way. I would have no hesitation in recommending First Recruitment to any employer who needs that little extra support in their recruitment process."
Bokomo Foods (UK) Limited
“I have found First Recruitment to be very efficient and professional in their approach to recruitment. They were able to gain an in depth understanding of the needs of our business and source high quality candidates. I would highly recommend their services to anyone with a recruitment need.”
"First Group are one of the key suppliers to Cobham. The team are quick to respond, friendly and professional, and as such have made a massive difference to the account. The team have supported and filled a variety of roles. Without hestitation I would recommend First."