Top tips for a telephone interview

Whether you’re looking for a new job, making a career change or planning a return to work, the type of roles you apply for are increasingly likely to feature a more and more thorough vetting process. With the majority of jobs””especially business graduate jobs“”in such high demand, employers and recruiters are using a wider variety of methods to create candidate shortlists. One of these methods is the telephone interview.

The candidates whose CVs or applications forms most impress the person in charge of hiring will be asked to participate in a short discussion over the phone. The conversation will include several questions designed to screen the candidates in order to select the most suitable ones to put through to the next stage.

If the thought of such a process by telephone fills you with dread, that’s completely natural. No matter how confident you are in the flesh, telephone conversations can often be awkward or uncomfortable because of the lack of visual cues, communication through body language or the opportunity of shared experiences such as eating or drinking together whilst chatting. However, there are some easy ways to feel more at ease during a telephone job interview, therefore improving your chances of acing it:

1. Prepare: Just because it’s not a conventional interview doesn’t mean you don’t have to prepare for it. Rehearse common interview questions, as well as difficult ones. Research the company and, if possible, find out who you’ll be talking to on the phone and research them as well by looking at their LinkedIn profile, reading press on them and reading their bio on the organisation’s website.

2. Get dressed: Even though the interviewer obviously can’t see you, getting dressed and grooming yourself as if you were actually going to a face-to-face interview will help you feel more confident and professional and this will come across in your voice and in what you say during the phone conversation.

3. Take the call in an organised space: Just as you should look the part, the place where you take the call should also be professional. If you take the call whilst slumping on the floor in the middle of a cluttered, untidy room, your mind itself will be cluttered and you’ll come across as distracted and sluggish on the phone. Instead, clear a space around you so you’ll have space to think and take the call sitting on a hardback chair at a desk or table.

4. Smile: Because of the aforementioned lack of verbal cues, it’s hard to tell how positive a person is feeling on the phone. However, if you smile, the person on the other end will be able to tell, even though they can’t see the smile. Smiling automatically makes you feel better, therefore injecting a positive tone in your voice.

5. Mean what you say and say what you mean: You can’t see a person’s facial expressions or body language on the phone. All you have to go on is what they say and how they sound. You have to take their words at face value. This is especially the case with job interviews, as the person on the other end won’t know you. Bear this in mind when talking to the interviewer on the phone. Be clear and straightforward in what you say in order to avoid misunderstandings. Leave out the irony, jokes, double meanings and subliminal hints in order to avoid confusion.

Good Luck!

Nisa Chitakasem, founder of

(This article has been recreated with kind permission from