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How to handle telephone interviews

More and more employers are using telephone interviews as the competition for jobs and the growing number of applicant for each vacancy rises.

You might be surprised to hear that more than 50% of prospective candidates are disqualified after the first phone contact is made with them by an employer, yet it is true.  In today’s world, employers no longer have the time to interview every possible applicant and many are using phone calls as a less expensive, less time consuming way to screen out potentially unsuitable candidates.

Telephone interviews can catch many people off guard.  The interviewer usually makes up his or her mind within the first five minutes. The remainder of the time is spent just confirming first impressions. Just like a standard interview you might receive more than just one phone interview, and you have to pass them all.  With that in mind, a wise move would be to know how to tackle telephone interviews.

How to tackle telephone interviews

how to handle telephone interviews at the personal development cafeWhilst telephone interviews can be very intimidating, there are advantages for both the employer and the interviewer.  Firstly you are not going to be judged on appearance.  This might not seem important; however when you consider that in a ‘standard’ interview research shows that visual impression can have a great influence.  In fact it is said that over 70% of decisions to hire are based on first impression.

That does not mean that the rule does not apply in telephone interviews.  As this is likely to be your first contact, make sure you act professionally.  Even during an ‘informal’ interview or chat remember that you are being interviewed.

If you know that you are going to be interviewed via telephone, make sure you are ready to leave a great impression.

Before the interview, find a quiet place where you can relax and will not be disturbed. Gather up all the necessary information you might require (the Job Advert, your CV/Resume, any relevant certificates etc.) and have them at hand if you need to refer to them.  Take note of the following tips:


According to research, there is a lot more to making a phone call than meets the eye. If you want to get the most out of a call to prospective employers, take note of the following tips: –

  • To sound relaxed and confident, smile on the phone.  This releases brain chemicals (endorphins) that make us feel more optimistic and increases our sense of well-being.  This in turn makes our words sound positive and enthusiastic.
  • To sound more authoritative, try standing.  This heightens our sense of authority, while sharpening our minds.
  • Develop a greater understanding of caller by imagining what they look like.  Talk to image and not just the handset.
  • Research also shows that a tense man sounds old, irritable and inflexible while a woman sounds irrational and emotional.
  • Become a more effective listener by holding the phone to your right ear to analyse complicated facts and figures. Listen with your left ear and you automatically become more intuitive and sympathetic. 
  • Also, avoid lengthy interruptions by encouraging the other person to continue talking with brief comments such as “ I understand”.  When allowed to talk freely, people often say more than they intended.
  • Finally, pay attention to speed of speed of voice, clarity and pitch.  Do not speak too quickly or slowly.  People will pay more attention to the rate at which you speak rather than the content if you speak rapidly.  On the other hand, a slow drawl is likely to irritate.

The likelihood is that successful telephone interviews will lead to either an offer of employment or more likely to a further interview.  If you are called for a formal or face-to-face meeting you should make sure that you do your research on the company.  You should also familiarise yourself with the most common interview quesions, some difficult interview questions and prepare some questions you may wish to ask at the interview.

If you would like to share any interview tips you think others could benefit from, or ask a question you would like answered, then use our comment form below and we will add them to The Personal Development Cafe.

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