Many Organisations now use phone interviews to screen their initial shortlist before embarking on a more detailed round of face to face interviews with Candidates. 

While on on the face of it a telephone screening process sounds a less formal interview, the reality is that the preparation process for you as a Candidate remains detailed as you still are in a position of having to make a positive impression if you are to progress to the next stage.

Below are a list of the key factors for you to consider so you are equipped to succeed.


Do Your Research



As you would with a face to face Interviewer you should extensively research the Company, the opportunity and find out what you can about the person Interviewing you. Also be prepared and practise how you would answer some of the more common interview questions you could expect to be asked.


Have an Elevator Pitch ready

In summary this is a brief , 3 to 4 sentence overview of you, your career, your achievements , your responsibilities and your ambitions, so basically a  mini sales pitch which is good for breaking the Ice during what can be difficult starts to the interview. Its more important than ever to build up rapport during a telephone call so If the Interviewers opening question is “Tell me a bit about yourself Jane?” you are ready to roll it off the tongue. If you start 'umming and ahhing' at this point it could throw you off track straight away and also wont leave a good first impression for the Interviewer.


Plan Your Space

Find a quiet space and if you are using a mobile have a charger to hand too. Make sure you have a clear signal where you are certain you won’t be interrupted during the call. If you are using your landline, turn your mobile phone off ! Know what time the call is , who is ringing who  and the telephone numbers in question. Remember  the Interviewer wont want to hear traffic, a dog barking or a TV on as it doesn’t convey the importance of the conversation. Make sure you are in an environment where you can focus solely on the interview and will not be interrupted.


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Treat it with the same Level of Importance as a Face to Face Interview

What you say on the interview should be similar to what you would say in a face-to-face meeting, even if it seems more informal. That means holding off on asking about salary, vacation, flex time or any other perks. Instead, you should be showcasing your knowledge about the company what you can do for them.


Stay Calm

Remember to take deep breaths to control your breathing and maybe count to 3  in your head after every statement you’ve made so you don’t come across as being too fast or garbled.


Have a Glass of Water by Your Side


glass of water


Nothing worse than the nerves and situation causing your voice to struggle so have a glass of water to hand and don't be afraid to say to the interviewer, "I’m just going to take a sip of water as my throat is dry, please excuse me a minute." They cannot see what you are doing so let them know!


Know Your CV thoroughly

Make sure you know your CV. This will form the basis of what you’ll be questioned on, after all, so make sure you’re prepared for questions about your employment, achievements  and education experience. The best part of a telephone interview is that you can keep your CV in front of you, so you can refer to it if you get tongue tied.


Write down any Questions and notes you have in advance

A phone interview is a really good opportunity to find out more about the role and the Organisation, any concerns you have and the interview process and timelines so write down the questions you want to ask and also write notes on any standard Interview questions for example your strengths and weaknesses so you can refer to them if your mind goes blank or for reassurance.


Have a Pen and Paper handy

Useful in case you think of something during the call so you can come back to it at a convenient point.


Dress as if You Were Physically Attending

We know  the interviewer can’t see you but from a psychological perspective we still believe  it’s  great idea to dress smart, helping you feel more professional and confident. Plus, if your phone signal cuts out and you have to resort to video interview, you’re already ready.


Be Professional

When  you answer the phone make sure you sound uber professional immediately – not like you’re greeting your mates on a night out! Also as you would during a face to face meeting ensure you do not get caught up in relaying the negativity of any previous employment experience. Also be careful to avoid slang phrases and make sure you pronounce words properly. Mispronounciations can become more evident on a phone call.


Smile When You Dial



 By smiling it will help project your enthusiasm to come across in your voice which is important for the interviewer to pick up on. Monotone is a big no!


Stand Up

Standing up during the call  can make you feel more assertive and in control of the call , helping you to convey a positive and enthusiastic impression.



Don’t jump in mid sentence on the Interviewer, eager to answer what you think is his full question. Wait for them to finish their question or statement , then take a few breaths, even repeat the question back and say to the interviewer I am just going to take a few seconds to think about this.


Remember ..Silence is OK!

In person this isn’t always necessary but over the phone a few seconds of silence can sound like an eternity so managing the process is even more critical.  Many job seekers will try to fill every silence to avoid awkwardness, but this usually leads to rambling or even blurting out answers. It’s ok to take a few seconds to answer a question but just make sure you end your answer crisply.


Use the STAR Technique

When it comes to answering any competency-based telephone interview questions, try to use the STAR technique, where you lay out the situation you were facing, the task you had to do, the action you took and what the result was.

This will stop you from waffling unnecessarily which can sound worse over the phone.

  • Situation: Start by outlining the situation you were in.
  • Task: Talk about the task at hand. What was required of you?
  • Action: What did you do? What action/s did you take and why?
  • Result: Summarise the results of your actions.

This will help you to show your experience for the position, and to formulate your answers in a clear, concise and confident manner.


Stay Positive Throughout



The techniques we have listed above should enable you to get into and remain in a positive mindset throughout the call and don’t forget at the end to thank the Interviewer for their time and ask them for the next steps!


Can We Help?

Can we help? We have placed and filled over 100,000 temp and permanent assignments over the last 27 years so have a range of techniques, ideas and platforms which could help you. Why not call us on 0113 367 2880 have a conversation with one of our team. Alternatively drop us an email here or check out are Testimonials and Case Studies.

PS: You can also check out are Candidate Showcase Video here.


About the Author: Mark Woffenden

Mark Woffenden is a Director at Lucy Walker Recruitment and has an extensive knowledge of the issues and workings of the West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester Commercial markets developed over the last 20 years in the Industry