Type of telephone interview
There are two types of telephone interview – the scheduled and the unscheduled. The former is far easier to prepare for whilst the latter can prove to be far more problematic. Ensure you answer the phone (not a colleague or your two-year-old!) and that you also have a professional voicemail message. Depending on the circumstances - you need to be the judge - you might opt to advise the caller it is not a convenient time and could the call be rescheduled for later in the day.
It is essential you do your homework, as is the case with every form of interview. You must know the company’s business and their key numbers plus any events you have found out about them through your research. It is also advisable to research the background of the interviewer. Having a cheat sheet in front of you is one of the advantages of a telephone interview.
You should be mindful that the interviewer does not want to be put in a position where they are unable to answer your question. The level and department in which the interviewer works will dictate what kind of question you ask. Humiliating an interviewer will never work in your favor.
Feel at ease / comfortable
Make sure you feel at ease. If your signal is poor do not arrange to take the call on your mobile as this causes unnecessary stress and could potentially irritate the interviewer. Shut out distractions for example pets, young children or an audible sound from your computer. If the call is on a landline turn your mobile phone off and be prepared for the call ensuring you sound calm and collected. Have a glass of water handy. Make notes with a pen and paper as opposed to on a computer as typing during the interview is a definite no no.
The interview itself
Let the interviewer lead the interview and take notes enabling you to respond to their introduction – i.e. why the current incumbent is leaving, challenges the department faces etc. Under no circumstances interrupt whilst they are talking.
Your turn to speak
This is stating the obvious but during a telephone interview there are no visual cues so ensure it is your turn to speak. If you believe feel you are more dynamic whilst standing – then stand. The old adage of smile before you dial is so true during the telephone interview process – monotone delivery can give the impression you are just going through the motions. Having some prepared scenarios as to how you have improved process, handled difficult situations etc. is advisable.
End of call
Sign off the call positively for example – “Thank you very much for your time. I am very interested in both your organisation and the role and look forward to hearing from you.” You might also want to ask what is the next step in the recruitment process?
Follow up the call with an email either later that day or the following day to firstly thank the interviewer and secondly reiterate your interest.
There is no norm as far as call length is concerned. Ask you recruiter questions as to the expected format of the telephone interview and whether there is anything you should know about to give you an advantage over other applicants? Continuously remind yourself this is a “sales process” and you need to sell yourself to the interviewer in order to progress to the next stage.