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A quick guide: telephone interviews

by Michael Bailey | 11 April 2017

Telephone interviews continue to grow in popularity within the recruitment process, particularly when hiring locums. However, these can be a new concept and daunting for candidates who have never completed one!
The idea of a telephone interview is that an employer can efficiently gain a technical understanding of a candidate’s experience without having to set up a lot of timely formal interviews. Thus, the employer is able to shorten the hiring cycle, and can reduce five possible CVs to only seeing two candidates for a face-to-face interview. Therefore, it is crucial that you make a strong first impression to ensure you are shortlisted for a formal interview and make it onto the next stage of the hiring process. 

As I would reiterate to any candidate, prepare for the call as you would with any interview!

How you come across
A key part of the telephone interview is how you come across over the phone. If the interviewer is a recruitment consultant, they will be assessing you very carefully as you will need to make a good impression with their client.  You should think about your tone, sense of humour and show your personality. You will have to go the extra mile as the interviewer cannot see your facial expressions or your body language.

You should also be in a quiet room with plenty of signal when the call comes through to ensure you are not disrupted. 

You still need to prepare as you would for a full interview, researching the company, their vision, value as well as information about the person interviewing you.

You actually hold an advantage at a telephone interview as you can have your CV and preparation notes all in front of you to help and jog your memory.

Common questions
Questions you should expect are usually very similar to a standard interview, for example you may be asked:

  • What motivates you?
  • What interests you about the role?
  • Why do you want to work for this company?
  • What skills and experience can you bring to the role?
  • What other positions have you applied for?
  • What are your long-term goals? 
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?  

Be sure to prepare your answers for the questions above as well as questions that may be more technical or competency-based.  

Sell yourself
If you are conducting a telephone interview, the chances are that the employer is also speaking to a number of other candidates. So why should you be invited to the next stage and what skills differentiate you from your competitors? Tell them what excites you about the role, highlight your strengths in relation to the role, and think about how you are going to stand out against the other interviewees with very similar experiences to yourself.

Close the interview
Ask questions, be innovative, and try to choose questions that are company or person specific so it shows that you have done your research. Do they have any reservations or immediate feedback for you?

Final tips
Honesty is the best policy, breathe slowly and steadily, take your time, keep your answers clear and to the point. Be sure to be enthusiastic, tell them you are interested in the job and thank them for their time.  A follow-up email to thank them for their time and to show how keen you are on the role will never hurt.

As with any interview, there can be a few curveballs thrown your way but the key is preparation. If you do not prepare and the interviewer knows you have not, the result could mean failing to reach the next interview stage

If you need any assistance with interviews or would like Sellick Partnership to help with your next move, contact one of the team on 0113 243 9775 or check out our candidate resources page.