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How to Prepare for a Phone Interview

An old dial up phone against a white background.

As the job market becomes increasingly competitive, many companies now conduct phone interviews as part of their recruitment process. Back in 2015 we wrote an article on how to prepare for a phone interview and it proved to be rather popular. Therefore, we decided that it was a topic that could really do with being updated to reflect current hiring practices. In this 2019 post, we shed light on what candidates can expect during a phone call with one of our recruiters.

Before the call

There are many things you can do prior to your call to make the experience as slick and professional as possible. Thorough preparation will help make the experience far less stressful, which in turn will help you to perform to the best of your abilities.

Do your research

Make sure you research the company, its history and it’s always useful to know about the person conducting the interview. It’s also wise to check out the company’s social media channels to learn about any recent company news and get a feel for the company culture.

Explore the role and match your skills to the position

You should have received a job description or personal specification before your phone interview. There’s a skill set that you have that employers want to know more about so make sure you have a firm understanding of exactly which skills and experience you have that align most closely with the position you have applied for.

Have a copy of your CV and notes on the role and company to hand

With the exception of your CV, you will want to keep your notes short and high level. Make bullet points from your research and use these as prompts to jog your memory. Try to keep paper rustling to a minimum so it doesn’t interfere with the quality of the call and make it sound like you are just reading everything from a script!

Prepare and rehearse your answers

“Tell me a little bit about yourself”

With this question, the recruiter wants to learn more about you. Your responses will give them a good idea of the things you enjoy, what motivates you and your personality. Your response can include a mix of academic, work, and personal achievements.

“Why are you applying for this programme?”

This tells the recruiter how serious you are about the role you have applied for. No employer wants to hire someone who isn’t genuinely interested in the job they have applied for, and it can be pretty obvious when this is the case.

“What do you know about the role?”

This question aims to tell a recruiter not only whether you have spent time to carefully read the job description, but what your interpretation of the job and responsibilities are.

“Why do you want to work for us?”

This may seem like an obvious question but think about all aspects of the company. This could include the company culture; do they have a supportive working environment that encourages a good work/life balance? How about corporate social responsibility; does the organisation have a strong commitment to helping the community or environment? There are lots of reasons why you might be interested in a company beyond pay and benefits.

“Can you take me through your CV?”

This is an opportunity for you to build a narrative around your education, career and extra-curricular achievements. CV’s can only say so much, so this is a chance to bring it to life. Furthermore, how you answer this question will show how passionate you are about your achievements to date.

“Do you have any questions for us?”

Interviews are very much two-way conversations. The process is also a chance for you to decide if you are the right fit for the company and also if the company is for you. We highly recommend asking questions as it shows that you are engaged, thoughtful and interested.  Here are some questions you could ask:

  • If I was hired, what would you expect me to achieve in the first 90 days?
  • How do you measure success in the role?
  • What is the team structure like?
  • What personal development opportunities will be available to me?
  • What do you enjoy most about working here?
Keep answers short and concise

Without preparation, it can be easy to lose track of your response and ramble on. Remember to keep your answers focused and to the point, avoiding unnecessary “ums” and “ahs”, and try not to let yourself tail off at the end of a response.

After the interview

With the right preparation and effort, you should have a stress free and enjoyable phone interview. Sometimes at the end of a call, you will get an immediate invitation to attend a face to face interview, but on many occasions that will follow after your suitability has been assessed. If this is the case we recommend you reflect on your performance, were there any questions you could have answered better? Or were there any that just stumped you all together? Take note of these while they are fresh in your mind and think about how you would answer them better in future.

Feeling confident enough to make an application? See what roles we have for you in the business and technology sector today.

Featured image credit: Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

About Afshan Munir


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