Top 20 Tips on How Not to Flub the Phone Interview

phone interview

Phone interviews strike fear and dread into the hearts of many. Interviews are worry enough, but add in a phone and it’s a disaster zone. It’s a challenge completing a 5 minute phone conversation with your mother, and the option of online takeaway-ordering is the technological gift that keeps on giving. For some, even answering the phone to give a friend directions is horrible, so advancing to the Phone Interview stage of an application is both a cause for celebration and for despair. It’s like combining all the worst things into one 10 minute nightmare; talking about yourself, selling your best qualities in an interview, and phone conversations with strangers. But let’s put aside the melodrama. We’re not here to freak you out, we are here to help. For those who advance past the initial stages of a graduate scheme application, such as the Lloyds Banking Group Graduate Programme which opens on Intern Avenue soon, a telephone interview will be conducted. So here are 20 tips to make sure you don’t royally flub the phone interview:

  1. Make sure you have access to a phone – obvious, but essential, otherwise you’ll just be yelling into thin air
  2. Be in a silent space – don’t take a call in public and instruct your housemates/children/dogs/mice to stay quiet as, well…mice
  3. Have your CV, application form, reference details and the company’s website within your eyeline – you’ll feel more prepared, seem more professional, and avoid rustling around and trying to navigate your computer in the quest to find them
  4. Research the company – find out what their recent achievements were, their company values, a background history on the organisation – it can only serve you well to demonstrate your knowledge and interest
  5. Compile a list of your own questions to ask at the end of the interview. A good list of possible questions you could ask can be found here
  6. Smile (♪when your knees are shaking, smile, though your voice is breaking…♪) – Even when you can’t see somebody’s face, you can hear it in their voice whether they are smiling or not. A smile also gives you more confidence, and makes you sound brighter
  7. Dress professionally – again, the interviewer cannot see you, but pyjamas and slouchy clothes will not make you feel as though you are having an interview, and you may be psychologically inclined to behave a little too casually or feel nervous if you aren’t dressed the part.
  8. Practice speaking beforehand – know roughly what you want to say (‘roughly’, so that you don’t end up reciting a monologue; You want to sound natural) and look out for your ‘uhm’s and ‘ah’s. Read our previous blogpost, “Interview talk – 11 steps to lose the ‘um’s and ‘erh’s”
  9. Make sure your phone has service and battery – you want to be audible, understandable and able to hear and understand the interviewer without your phone cutting off.
  10. Address the interviewer as ‘Mr/Ms/Miss/Mrs [insert surname]’ unless they tell you otherwise
  11. Be relaxed, but not too relaxed. Do not swear, smoke, eat, or chew gum during the interview, and do not ask the interviewer if they want to go out for Mojitos later
  12. Don’t be hungover. And if you are, don’t tell the interviewer that you have a hangover. Because they will ‘hang’ up and it will all be ‘over’
  13. Calm down – don’t worry if the interviewer doesn’t sound ‘super enthusiastic’ or responsive over the phone, it isn’t necessarily a reflection of your performance. It is either an intimidation tactic, a way of maintaining professionalism, or the interviewer just has a very dull voice
  14. Wake up well before the interview so you are alert and your voice doesn’t sound weird
  15. Have a glass of water near you during the interview to stay hydrated and stop your voice from croaking. Water is also important if you are hungover, which you shouldn’t be.
  16. Speak at a steady pace, take your time, and breathe
  17. Keep your answers concise – don’t take up valuable time waffling on about the same topic. This is where practice beforehand comes in useful
  18. This is not the time for you to bring up salary, bonuses and perks – so don’t
  19. Don’t take another call or start skyping somebody. An explanation for why you shouldn’t do this is unnecessary.
  20. Follow up – send an email or letter of thanks within 48 hours of your interview

The main thing to take away is that preparation and staying calm is paramount – if you have already advanced to the telephone interview stage in a recruitment process, that is an achievement and a sign that the company sees potential in you. Run with that thought and stay positive.

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