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Mastering Telephone Interviews: Preparation Tips and Examples

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Mastering Telephone Interviews: Preparation Tips and Examples

by Karien de Villiers

  • Job interview
  • · April 23 2024
  • · 4 min read
telephone interviews

Table of contents

In job hunting, the phone interview serves as the initial step in the hiring process. It acts as a gateway for employers to screen potential candidates and gauge their suitability for further consideration. Understanding the nuances of this phase can significantly enhance your chances of progressing to the next round.

Telephone interviews come in two primary forms: the screening phone interview and the more in-depth phone conversation. The former is typically shorter and focuses on assessing basic qualifications and fit for the role, while the latter delves deeper into your experience, skills, and motivations. Regardless of the type, thorough preparation is key to making a positive impression.

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Tips to help you ace your next phone interview

1. Research the company 

Familiarise yourself with the company's background, delve into its industry, and thoroughly grasp the specifics of the role you're applying for. Take a deep dive into the job description, ensuring a comprehensive understanding to align your skills and experiences precisely with their requirements. This insight empowers you to effectively tailor your phone interview responses, showcasing your genuine interest and suitability for the role.

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Pro Tip

Take a glance at the company's social media platforms to gain further insights into their current operational methods or recent developments.

2. Prepare your environment 

Find a quiet, comfortable spot for your phone interview, free from interruptions. Make sure you have good reception. Remove distractions and have your CV, job description, and any additional notes nearby. This helps you focus on the conversation and present yourself professionally.

3. Practice active listening

In a phone interview, active listening is key since visual cues are absent. Pay close attention to the interviewer's questions, and wait a moment before responding to let them finish speaking. This ensures you give clear, brief answers and avoid misunderstandings. Summarising or rephrasing their questions before answering also shows you're attentive.

4. Prepare talking points

Prepare for typical interview questions and have concise, relevant examples to demonstrate your qualifications and successes. Emphasise skills, experiences, and achievements that match the job's needs. Also, be prepared to explain why you're interested in the role and how you can benefit the company. Practice your responses in advance to feel more confident and provide strong answers during the interview.

Examples of talking points:

  • Express your enthusiasm for the opportunity.

  • Highlight specific experiences and skills that are relevant to the job.

  • Provide examples of past achievements or projects that demonstrate your abilities.

  • Connect your experiences directly to the requirements of the role.

  • Explain why you're interested in the position and the company.

  • Mention what attracts you to the company's mission, culture, or values.

  • Showcase your flexibility and adaptability to different situations.

  • Highlight instances where you've successfully adapted to new environments or tasks.

  • Mention any experience you have with virtual communication tools or platforms.

  • Reiterate your enthusiasm for the opportunity.

  • Thank the interviewer for their time and express your eagerness to move forward in the hiring process.

5. Follow-up

After the interview, express your appreciation for the opportunity with a thank-you email or note. Reiterate your interest in the position and briefly mention something specific from the conversation to personalise your message. This demonstrates your professionalism and keeps you fresh in the interviewer's mind as they evaluate candidates.

Examples of questions and answers in a telephone interview

1. What's your availability like?

Right answer: "I'm flexible with my schedule and can make myself available for interviews at your convenience."

Wrong answer: "I'm busy most of the time, but I can try to squeeze in an interview if necessary."

2. Where are you currently based?

Right answer: "I am currently based in London, but I am open to relocation for the right opportunity."

Wrong answer: "I'd prefer not to disclose my location at this time."

3. What drew you to this job?

Right answer: "I was drawn to this job because of the company's innovative approach and commitment to making a positive impact in the industry."

Wrong answer: "I'm just looking for any job that pays well."

4. What is your current job?

Right answer: "Currently, I work as an Accountant at KCMG, where I manage accounts payable and receivable, reconcile financial statements, and prepare monthly budget reports to track expenses and revenue."

Wrong answer: "I'm not really doing much at my current job."

5. Why are you leaving your current position?

Right answer: "I'm seeking new challenges and opportunities for growth that align with my long-term career goals."

Wrong answer: "I can't stand my boss, so I'm looking to get out as soon as possible."

6. What do you know about the company?

Right answer: "I'm impressed by the company's commitment to sustainability and its recent expansion into new markets."

Wrong answer: "Not much, to be honest. I haven't had time to do any research."

7. What interests you about this job?

Right answer: "I'm excited about the opportunity to contribute my skills and experience to a dynamic team and make a meaningful impact."

Wrong answer: "I just need a job, and this one seemed okay."

Before, during, and after a phone interview

Before

During

After

Take a deep breath, research the company, set up your area, and have resources on hand.

Listen carefully, ask questions, watch your tone of voice, and take notes.

Reflect on the conversation, follow up with a thank-you email, do additional research if needed, and relax, knowing you did your best.

Key takeaways 

By following these tips, you can get ready for and do well in your next phone interview, improving your chances of moving forward in the hiring process. Keep in mind that every conversation is a chance to demonstrate your skills and excitement for the job, so go into it with confidence and optimism. 

Next steps? 

Explore our extensive collection of CV examples and cover letter templates for inspiration. Alternatively, you can opt for our CV writing services or utilise our CV builder to craft your own documents.

FAQ

What is a telephone interview?

A telephone interview is a preliminary stage in the hiring process where a recruiter or hiring manager conducts an interview with a candidate over the phone. It's typically used to screen candidates before inviting them for an in-person interview.

What to expect from a phone call interview?

During a phone interview, you can expect the interviewer to ask about your background, experience, and skills relevant to the job. They may also inquire about your availability, salary expectations, and interest in the position. Be prepared to answer questions concisely and professionally.

What happens after a phone interview?

Following a phone interview, the hiring manager may assess your performance and compare it with other candidates. They may decide to invite you for an in-person interview if they find you suitable for the position. Alternatively, they might decide not to move forward with your application, in which case they may inform you of their decision via email or phone call.

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Updated April 23 2024

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Written by

Karien has established herself as a leading figure in the career services industry, crafting over 800 professional documents and assisting job seekers globally with reviews such as "I'd hire me". Renowned for her expertise, she continues to empower individuals, specialising in creating resources to aid job seekers in securing employment and staying ahead in the ever-evolving job market. Start here today!

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