Telephone interviews are often thought to be easier than face-to-face interviews as it is usually the first stage of the interview process. However, these do come with challenges of their own. Make telephone interviews work in your favour by taking our top tips to help you prepare.

1. Research

This is most likely the first thing you will do in preparation for your phone interview.

Firstly, it is important to research the institution thoroughly. Find out the W’s (i.e. who, what, why, when, where), so essentially all key information about the institution.

Also find out the latest updates that are most relevant to the opportunity you’re applying for and think about what your opinion is on these. You could be asked this during the interview, and if you are prepared with your very own perspective, you can really differentiate yourself. Consequently, this may allow the interviewer to imagine how you could potentially contribute if you were offered the opportunity.

Glasses notebook and laptop
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2. Prepare for common questions

There are many questions that would most certainly come up in an interview, and they are usually along the lines of something like these:

  • Tell me about yourself, what are your strengths?
  • Do you have any weaknesses?
  • Why do you want to apply to [insert name of institution]?
  • Why do you think you are suitable for this opportunity?
  • Where do you see yourself in [insert number of years]?
  • Who inspires you the most?

Common questions such as these give you the opportunity to prepare so that you won’t be at a loss for words. Do be careful to not just memorise or recite as this can appear very obviously rehearsed, which isn’t necessarily appreciated by everyone.

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3. Go through your Personal Statement and know it well

Sometimes nerves can cause you to forget things that you’ve personally done! So make sure you know your personal statement thoroughly and have past experience examples ready to make links and showcase the skills that you have which are relevant and suitable for the opportunity you’re applying to.

Berkeley Communications phone call
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4. Ask questions (if you have any)

Generally, you would have questions after your research, and especially if you are seriously interested in the opportunity. Unless they were all answered already during the interview, then don’t worry too much about not having any. Having genuine questions will demonstrate that you have an earnest interest in the role and the institution, and consequently show an inquisitiveness which is generally desired.

All the above are essentially the same for both face-to-face interviews and phone interviews, but as shown below, there are many other aspects that you would need to consider differently for the latter. For considerations specific to face-to-face interviews, you can refer to another very comprehensive step by step blog here.

5. Location and Environment

It is important to be in a quiet environment with no distractions so that all your focus is on the interview itself. Also ensure that you are in a place where you will not be easily disturbed by people.

Also remember to ensure that your phone is charged, if using a mobile, and check that there is good signal coverage.

6. Tone of Voice

As there is no opportunity for body language to show that you are following and responding to what the interviewer is saying, it may be wise to acknowledge them from time to time by adding small verbal affirmations. Be careful not to focus on it too much as that may come across forced and ingenuine.

Do take the time to answer questions. If you feel that the pause you’re making whilst thinking about your answers is a bit awkward, you could consider talking through your thought process with the interviewer.

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7. Behind-the-Scenes

You may feel a lot less nervous as the interviewer will not be able to see you, however your physical presentation is just as important when doing a telephone interview as it affects the mindset you are in.

Try dressing as if you were going to a face-to-face interview. Keep to a smart dress code, as this tells your mind that you are going into interview mode.

Being dressed as if you are actually going into an in-person interview can also give you confidence since your attire fits the general purpose and setting. This confidence may then be reflected in your tone of voice and ultimately affects your interview performance.

Ultimately, telephone interviews do give you an upper hand as you would be able to have some notes with you to refer to if you ever get stuck. Moreover, you are also relieved of travel organisation. All in all, telephone interviews are a great way to ease into a full interview process, and the more you do them, the more confident you will become.

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