Telephone interview techniques

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What You Should and Should Not Do During a Telephone Interview

In-person interviews have almost been time-consuming and costly for companies. That is why an increasing number of recruiters are conducting telephone interviews with potential candidates who are looking for work. With so many candidates to interview, it is easier for recruiters just to call them up on the phone and ask them questions. However, it can be more challenging for the candidates who are receiving the calls because they’re not always prepared to do interviews over the phone. 

How can a candidate overcome this challenge and get better prepared to take the call? Below are tips on what you should and should not do during a telephone interview with a recruiter.

What You SHOULD Do

  • Research the company beforehand. This is something you should always do, regardless of whether you’re doing an in-person interview or phone interview. It is important to find out as much information about the company as possible, such as its size and organizational structure. What kind of services or products does it sell? Who is the target audience? You can find this information out on the company’s website as well as their competitors’ websites too. Sometimes you might find recent news articles which talk about how the company is expanding into new markets or introducing new products. 
  • Prepare questions to ask the recruiter. Again, this is something you should do for any type of job interview. It is important to ask the recruiter questions about the company and the job that you want to fill. Since you’re going to do a phone interview, you can write down these questions beforehand and then just look at your list of questions as you’re talking to the recruiter on the phone. This will make it easier to remember what to ask them. As the recruiter answers your questions, write down their answers in real-time underneath the questions. 
  • Have the curriculum vitae (CV) in front of you during the phone interview. The recruiter is likely going to look at a copy of your CV too. They may ask you questions pertaining to some of the things on your CV, such as your education and experience. Your answers must be consistent and reflect what is written on your CV. 
  • Try to SMILE during the phone interview. This might seem weird because the recruiter won’t be looking at you. However, a smile does a lot more than just making you look positive and excited about the position. Smiling can also affect the way you sound too. The positivity of your smile can actually be heard when you speak. 
  • Listen to their questions and write down anything they say that is important. You may need to refer back to what they’re saying at a later date. Think of these notes as a cheat sheet which can help you ask the right questions toward the end of the phone interview. 
  • Landline phones are preferable. Yes, these phones might seem like ancient technology, but they still have their purpose. Landlines ensure that you have a strong phone connection without anyone’s voices breaking up or getting lost. After all, it sounds rather awkward to be asking “Can you hear me?” throughout most of the interview. 


  • Think of the phone interview differently than an in-person interview. Just because you’re not dressed up in professional business attire, it doesn’t mean you can just slack off during the interview. You must take the questions and answers as seriously as you would if the interview were in-person. 
  • Allow yourself to get distracted by your surroundings. Do you have a television in your room? Are there family members, friends, or other people around you? All these things can be distracting during a phone interview. You need to conduct the phone interview in a peaceful environment with silence.
  • There is plenty of time throughout the day to eat and snack. A phone interview with a recruiter is not one of those times. If you’re chewing on food and talking on the phone at the same time, the recruiter is going to hear your chewing noises and get turned off. 
  • Interrupting the recruiter as they’re talking. This annoys them just as easily as it would annoy you. Besides, it is better to let the recruiter finish what they’re saying because it gives you time to think about how you want to answer their questions or respond to their comments. However, make sure you don’t stay silent for too long after they stop talking. Then it becomes an awkward silence which doesn’t make them very happy. 
  • Sounding like you’re bored. The recruiter wants to hear someone who sounds attentive and enthusiastic about the position. If you’re mumbling your answers or yawning throughout the interview, it is not going to come across well to the recruiter. You need to always sound positive in every response and speak in clear, concise sentences.  

Other Tips: Avoid smoking, spacing out, chewing gum, getting distracted, or referring to yourself in the 3rd person. 


No one is perfect at phone interviews their first time out. But if you follow the tips outlined above, it shouldn’t take you long to find success at them. Keep practising and never give up. 

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