Tuesday, 20 March 2012

How to: Ace a phone interview.

Hi guys. Bit of a different post from me today but I just thought some of you may be interested to read.

Today I had a phone interview with a potential employer. I currently work in retail and have applied for a management position within the company. I passed the first stage of recruitment process which involved filling in an online application form. The next stage was then to organise a telephone interview. 
I'd never had a telephone interview before and was very nervous but there is nothing to worry about as long as you're prepared.

I just thought I'd share with you some of the things I did and didn't do, perhaps it will give you some ideas if you ever have a situation like this. (Which I'm guessing everybody will at some point if they're applying for a job!)

First and foremost. PREPARE!
Preparation is the most important thing you can do in order to not fluff your interview. If you're applying for a job and you think there may be a chance that the employer will want to conduct an interview with you over the phone then make sure, from the earliest time possible, you prepare yourself!

Read up on the company you're hoping to join. Get to know what they're about. You may be asked about the history or the current state of the company. Perhaps they may even ask you about the work ethics and policies of the workplace. Scour their website and write down any relevant information you think may be useful to drop into conversation.

I imagined what sorts of questions I thought they were likely to ask. If you don't have any ideas then you should try google. I searched for "common interview questions" and "what employers ask on a phone interview", for example. You will find realms of different ideas of questions for different types of jobs.

It is likely that the interviewer will ask a few core questions. For example, what are your strengths/weaknesses? Give an example of a time when you've shown leadership/teamwork skills? Where do you see yourself in 1/2/3/4/5 years? What do you understand about the job you're applying for?

Make notes on the questions you think may crop up. Keep the notes clear and precise. Bullet points are best so you can skim over them quickly whilst the interview is taking place. It is better to have the point written down and then you can speak about it there and then rather than reading a pre written script, which will sound very clunky and obvious to the interviewer.

I ended up writing around 10 pages of notes all together about a number of questions that I thought would be asked. I know this may be a little overboard for some but I wanted to cover all my bases.

I wrote a bit about the company and their ethics. Because this was a retail interview, I wrote a little on what I thought was meant by "Good customer service.." and why I would love to work for the company in question. Along with that I also wrote down a  few examples of when I have shown my skills in leadership/teamwork/going above and beyond/dealing with the customers etc.

Furthermore, I made a few notes of my strengths and weaknesses and why I would be the perfect candidate for the job. What skills do I have that match the needs of the job description? Remember, they don't want to know if you're "good at bowling" or "pride yourself on facebook stalking skills", make sure you make your points relevant to the job you're appling for. Are you intuitive, self motivated? Are you focussed on results and pride yourself on making sure a job is done properly? Maybe you have previous experience or you might be a fast learner who picks up new skills quickly? Are you reliable, polite and punctual?

It's all a guessing game as to what you think you will be asked but as long as you have a few notes written down and you sound confident, friendly and enthusiastic, nothing really can go wrong... as long as you're prepared.

Without a doubt you will definitely be asked at the end of the interview if you have anything you would like to ask. Whatever you do, do not say, "no". Make sure you have a couple of questions pre prepared as it will show the interviewer that you are keen to know more about the job and willing to ask questions, no matter how simple the answer may be!
As well as this, make sure you don't answer any question with, "I don't know." If you have to, make something up on the spot - refer to your notes and adapt something you've written to the question you've been asked.

Now for tips on the day of the interview 
I made sure I had re read my notes prior to the interview so they were clear in my head. 

Make sure you're in a quiet place. There will be nothing worse than noisy family members or pets, ringing mobiles or music playing in the background. 

Set up your space. I chose to sit on the floor in my bedroom. I surrounded myself with the notes I had made, so I wouldn't be flicking through them during the interview. Some people find it more exhilarating to stand up and walk around during an interview. This is more of a psychological thing as you feel more confident and in control if you're standing up. 

If you completed a written application prior to the interview, have it in front of you as well. I had mine on my laptop to the side of me. (Make sure you have your volume on silent so you don't accidently set off your favourite song!) This is what the interviewer will have in front of them and they will most likely refer to sections of it during your chat. Mine definitely did. It also means you can refer back to what you wrote in it, too.

Have a drink of water or juice by you as you will probably be talking from somewhere between half an hour and an hour. You don't want to get a dry mouth half way through.

Also make sure you have a pen handy, just incase you need to jot down any notes during or after the interview. It's surprising how fast you forget what has been said, especially if you're nervous!

Other than that, just get yourself comfortable and make sure you have your phone near you so you don't miss the call! Relax, be enthusiastic and try to sound confident, even if you're really not! 
I was on the phone for half an hour and it only felt like ten minutes. You will be fine as long as you are prepared and have an idea of what you are going to say.

I was told at the end of the interview that I would be contacted within five working days letting me know whether my interview had been successful or unsuccessful . Half an hour later I received an email inviting me back for another, face to face interview...so I must have done something right!

If you have an interview coming up, GOOD LUCK! I hope this helps somebody along the way!


  1. Great tips hun! Hope you get the job!
    This was a lovely read :) xx


  2. Great tips - for some reason phone interviews fluster me out a lot more then face to face ones. Done a couple in my time and yeah, not a fan of them!

  3. Well done on your next interview! Great post as well, I hate talking on the phone so phone interviews terrify me! xxx

  4. Well done neen I hope you get the job XX

  5. Great tips! I hope you land the job... Good luck and best wishes...

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