The Do’s and Don’ts of Telephone interviews 

Does the thought of a telephone interview fill you with dread? Are you unsure how to navigate the potential pitfalls of a phone based recruitment process?

Many companies have chosen over the years to kick-off their interview process with a phone interview. Accountancy firms are quickly catching up with this trend and we find increasingly that our clients use a phone interview early on in their recruitment process to screen potential candidates.

As a Hiring Manager the benefits are clear.  A 5-10-minute conversation over the phone can quickly iron out any major misunderstandings and help assess initial ‘fit’ for the role. It allows questions on both sides to unravel any ‘deal breakers’ early on.

More and more accountancy firms are reaping the benefits of telephone interviews to create an initial filter.  Its quick and easy to do with no travelling involved and saves time and expense for both employee and employer.

A word of warning for Employers

Phone interviews are suitable in certain circumstances and for some roles, they are no substitute for a face to face conversation and not a ‘catch all’ option. For a position which requires strong verbal communication skills for example, and where there will be lots of phone contact with clients, this may provide a great first step.  However, for technical roles and those where the candidate will be mostly ‘doing’, a phone interview may not be an ideal indicator of suitability.  In some cases, a phone interview may lead you to rule out very capable individuals who essentially are just not great at phone interviews!

Candidates be cautious

Should a prospective Employer decide to go down the route of an initial call to assess your suitability, or even a formal telephone based interview, don’t be caught out. Just because it’s not a face to face interview it’s not necessarily a soft option.  You still need to be prepared and do your research in the same manner.

We have produced some top tips for you to be consistent and professional during phone interviews;

1. Answer the phone in a professional manner 

In an ideal world you will have a pre- agreed interview time and the employer will call you. You should always answer the phone in a polite and professional manner e.g. “Hello Nathan xxxx speaking”. This will set the right tone and create a good first impression. Don’t answer the phone as you would answer the phone to your friends and try to avoid slang words, or ‘street phrases’ like ‘Hey’.

2. Don’t chew gum, eat or drink

You will be amazed how many people do this! Not only is eating and drinking bad manners whilst on the phone, it will impact on your clarity and make you difficult to understand.

3. Smile 

This sounds strange but genuinely works!

Smiling whilst you are speaking on the phone will change the tone of your voice and ensure that you project an overall positive vibe. It will help to come across as enthusiastic towards the role.

4. Speak with confidence

It’s important to speak with passion and confidence about the job. If you are quiet, you will not only be hard to understand but will give the impression that you are nervous.

Even if you are inwardly petrified, you need to project the idea that you are great at handling pressure. Speak clearly and slowly when answering and asking questions to convey a measured and assured approach.

6. Eliminate background noise 

Make sure that you are situated in a calm and quiet environment, where you will categorically not be interrupted. You don’t want the television on in the background or your dog barking at the other end of the line, not only will this put you off when you are responding to questions, but the employer too.

7. Professionalism is key 

Dress to impress. Dress formally as if you were going to a face-to-face interview. If you look professional you are more likely to sound professional. You will find it much easier to get into the zone than if you are slouching on the sofa in your dressing gown. It’s tricky to get into the right mindset wearing your fluffy slippers after all!

8. Don’t multitask 

It can sometimes be tempting in a phone interview to walk around the house, check your Social Media or emails whilst talking, but try to resist! You need to focus entirely on what is being said, and indeed on your answers. Turn your laptop and TV etc., off to help you resist the urge.

9. Prepare relevant questions

Make sure to prepare some relevant and thought through questions to ask the potential Employer. Asking credible questions will help to illustrate that you understand the role and the firm.

10. Close the call

Close the call properly by asking what the next step will be and how soon you will gain feedback. Reaffirm your interest in the role and be sure to thank the individual for their time

And finally

It’s a useful idea to just take notes or right everything down straight after the call finishes. If you are lucky enough to make it through to the next stage of the process you will be able to use the information you have already acquired from the call to form the basis of your research and preparation for the face to face interview.

We can help you with best practice advice in relation to any interview situation, and all our consultant’s work with their candidates to support them through the whole recruitment process. Please call us on 0333 577 7787 or email us via to find out more.


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