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How to prepare for a telephone interview

Summer is often a time for change and new beginnings. For some, it’s a sharper focus on fitness as the hot weather forces us to strip off and allows us to jog around the park without contracting a nasty cold. Often, it’s the time of year when we decide to shed a relationship we have outgrown. And with thousands of people finishing school, college, university and graduate schemes, there’s plenty of professional change happening, too. Even for those who’ve been employed for longer, you might be feeling ready to make a move to guarantee more (or less) sun for the rest of the year – or for countless other reasons.

And as people are (thankfully) becoming more environmentally conscious and cutting down on unnecessary travel, and widening the scope of their employee search, using teleconferencing for business communication is on the rise.

So to try to help out anyone looking to make a career change, we thought we’d create a list of tips to make sure you make the best possible impression on a telephone interview. Especially with so many recruitment agencies turning to conference calling.

Get a PMA

Before doing any specific prep, you should make sure you are in the right headspace for your interview. A positive mental attitude is more powerful than a lot of people realise, and believing that you can do something is very often half the battle.

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To make sure you’re feeling confident and ready, try embracing the habits which many successful people have in common, and remind yourself of why you want the job, and why you deserve it.

Get on the other side of the camera

For many of us, a lot of the anxiety surrounding any kind of interview is the feeling that the spotlight is trained firmly on us. So ahead of planning how you will behave on the call, get into the mindset of your interviewers. This will help you to know what to expect, understand why they might do certain things, and realise that they may have nerves to overcome and plans to sketch out too! Try doing some research and finding advice given to people who will conduct conference call interviews to plan your own approach accordingly.

Get a few answers ready

Not having to think on your toes for the entire duration of the audio meeting will make the experience much less daunting and tiring. It’s always a good idea to have some notes ready (a really great bonus of a phone interview!) with some answers to questions that often come up in telephone interviews.

One absolutely crucial thing which applies pretty much across the board is ensuring you really know about the company and have positive and detailed explanations about why you want to work for them.

As well as the company’s, you need to be prepared to sing your own praises. Always be ready to talk about your greatest strengths, your most significant achievement, and why you would excel in that job role.

You should be comfortable talking about the past and the future too. Being able to explain why you want to leave your current position while keeping an upbeat and optimistic tone is key. You should be able to guide the interviewer through your CV, and fill in any possible gaps by explaining what else you might have been doing. Thanks to it being a phone interview, you can have a copy of your CV right there in front of you. It’s a good idea to go even further and annotate it, highlighting the areas you consider most relevant and valuable, and scribbling any notes of information that you would like to add or expand on. Likewise, be sure of your goals and how the job fits into them.

Get a few questions ready

This idea of switching roles comes into play again here. At the end of the interview, you should be ready to do a bit of the asking yourself. They should give you a clear opportunity to do so, asking you if there is any more information you’d like or anything you wanted to ask them. In this scenario, you should never say no, as this indicates a severe lack of interest.

You can keep it simple and just ask to learn a little more about the company generally. Or you could take a more specific approach and ask more about the job which you’re interviewing for. Maybe you want more details regarding the role’s responsibilities, or you could ask whether it’s an existing role or one which has been created. You might also be interested in finding out about the team you’ll be joining and how you’ll slot in. Are there many employees? How are they structured in terms of hierarchy? Will most of your duties be carried out individually or as part of a team?

Another option is to focus on the future. Perhaps you can ask about your own prospects, and what the opportunities for promotion and for training are. Or you can ask about the company’s future, and what their plans might be for expansion or development.

Get yourself ready

While this whole article is about preparing for the interview, we mean literally get yourself physically ready. It might seem like a waste of time and effort, but actually going through the process of showering and getting out of your PJs and into some professional-wear can really centre you and get you in the right mindset. The ritualistic, repetitive act of getting showered and dressed helps calm your nerves and stop you from getting restless and fidgety while you wait, too. And it will help with that all-important confidence! There really is something to the expression of ‘wearing many hats’. Put the right one on to get yourself into the necessary persona and your best professional self.

Remember non-verbal communication

This probably sounds a little strange. A lot of people feel either relief or panic at the prospect of teleconferencing because they believe it erases the impact of body language and other non-verbal cues that affect our interactions. But the fact is, you mustn’t forget that your interviewers are picking up a lot more than just the words you say. So read our handy guide to understanding vocal cues to fine-tune the impression you give and to avoid misunderstanding your interviewers.

Be sure to avoid making any sounds indicative of nerves, like chewing on your pen or nails, or fidgeting or tapping. In fact, just aim to be in a quiet area with nothing nearby for you to play with or become distracted by – one massive no-no is having the sound of your keyboard clacking in the background!

Try to keep the phone at a constant distance from your face, so you aren’t getting louder and quieter, as these can suggest you’re afraid or aggressive, and are just generally distracting for the people on the call. And don’t forget to smile! We know they can’t see it, but you really can hear a smile.

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Gabi JamesHow to prepare for a telephone interview
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