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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.”

Don’t rush

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."

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.

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”.

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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