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Telephone Interview 101

If you are prepping for a phone interview, congratulations! Your CV and cover letter or job application has done its job and you have passed the crucial first stage which is often the hardest. Now it really is down to you and how you present yourself.

What do recruiters want to find out about you?

Telephone interviews are a way of screening candidates - recruiters can check for any information that was missing from your application, they may want to speak to you about your qualifications and experience in more detail. They can also get a sense of your interest in a role- are you keen on it? They may also want to get an idea of your salary expectations and any leave notice requirements if you are currently working. It is also a way of gauging your communication and presentation skills.

Preparation is key

You have a date and time so and have the opportunity to hone those communication skills in advance so that you make a great first impression. Plan ahead and make sure there are no distractions, that you are somewhere fairly quiet and somewhere where you can get a good signal if using your mobile. If in doubt, a landline is definitely the safest option! If you think you'll feel nervous, keep a glass of water handy.

Your Elevator Pitch

Have a targeted elevator pitch to hand to introduce yourself, your skills, knowledge and experience. Be ready to tell your story and articulate why you are suitable for the role by preparing some mini stories to illustrate how you can add value and transition well into the role. You have the advantage of being able to have anything you need to hand: your CV, any prepared bullet points to questions you think they might ask you, information about the role and company. Keep it natural and conversational so it doesn't come across as wooden or scripted. Don't forget to have questions ready that you want to ask for more insight, interviews of all kinds are two-way streets!


Your voice is your tool in a telephone interview and will communicate a lot about your personality so be aware of your tone and pitch and any little speech mannerisms you may have. Practice in advance and record your voice. I truly believe that people can hear a smile in someone’s voice. People are always surprised at how they sound to other people because how we hear ourselves talk is affected by vibrations inside our skull set off by our vocal chords as opposed to sound waves hitting our ear drum.

First impressions count!

Don’t be lulled into thinking this is not formal - it really is. Dress the part- your posture and breathing will be different - it will come through if you are lounging around in sweatpants or PJs. Put the effort in to prepare in advance – you will be glad you did because you can then actually enjoy the experience, be enthusiastic, confident and perform well.

Above all, recruiters will be looking for a calm, confident, approachable and professional manner. Now that you know what they are looking,for - go ace that telephone interview!