How to shine in telephone interviews

Telephone Interview 800 Wide

Rhian Burge for-candidates

How to shine in telephone interviews

Telephone interviews are often the first step of the screening process and they can be a daunting prospect. However, with the right planning and preparation they can be a great opportunity to shine and secure the all-important next step; the face-to-face interview.

For employers, phone interviews are an efficient method of narrowing the field, but for candidates, there are downsides; it’s not possible to read the interviewer’s body language and it can be difficult to build a good rapport. However, they are incredibly time efficient. This means that you won’t have to take holiday and travel further afield for a 45-minute interview. This is something that becomes even more pertinent as you get to the second and potentially third stage of the interview.  

At Eleven Recruitment we are experienced in preparing candidates for telephone interviews. Here’s our advice for getting the best out of yours.

Planning and preparation

Don’t underestimate the importance of planning; prepare for your telephone interview just as thoroughly as you would for a face-to-face interview. As well as assessing your experience so far, the interviewer will want to understand what motivates you, find out more about your background, understand your decision making and discover your strengths and weaknesses.

  • Be aware of the allocated time and plan accordingly.

  • Be prepared to elaborate on your CV.

  • Be concise, but at the same time try not to be abrupt.

  • Be friendly and open – try and establish a good rapport with your interviewer.

Think about what you like about the company and the role and what challenges the job could present. Will you be able to hit the ground running or will you need support?

Location, location, location

Choose a quiet spot where you won’t be interrupted. Insulate yourself from distractions and background noises and avoid busy places. If you are taking the call on your mobile, make sure the signal is strong and the reception is good. If it’s not, don’t ignore it; simply ask if they can call you back on a land line.

Stand and deliver

Stand up, smile and walk around the room as you talk. Not only will it help you to relax but it may also make a difference in the projection and quality of your voice and it should keep your energy levels high.

Question time

Telephone interviews often follow a similar line of questioning so it’s worth jotting down and practising your responses to the most commonly-asked questions including:-

  • Tell me about yourself.

  • What do you know about our company?

  • How did you learn about this position?

  • Why are you looking for a new position?

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

  • What is your current salary?

It’s also good practice to have prepared some questions of your own. Here are some good examples:-

  • Can you describe some of the key challenges I’ll face in this job?

  • What type of people are most successful in your company?

  • What are the key deliverables and outcomes that this position must achieve?

  • Is there any other information you need? 01565 

  • What will be the next stage of the process?


If you need help preparing for a telephone interview or have any other questions about your job search, get in touch by e-mail or on 01565 654830