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Game of Phones: How to Prepare for a Telephone Interview

by Mina Machacek

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The new season of Game of Thrones has just begun airing over the past two weeks and while we’re quite excited and would love to chat about it – don’t worry, there will be no spoilers below!

Just like the first few episodes of your favourite TV show, the first stage of the interview process is a teaser of what is to come. It’s all about testing the waters...they usually fill you in on all the information from the cliff-hanger of the previous episode; in this case you get filled in on all the information about the role that wasn’t mentioned previously. Sometimes there’s a surprise or a shock (say what, flexible working hours or other awesome benefits?!), occasionally a bit of filler (all that normal job chat), and then the plot usually thickens to make you eager to keep ongoing. A phone interview is just that!

The phone interview is typically the initial screening stage for employers to narrow down the pool of candidates before bringing in people to talk in-person. In most cases, phone interviews aren’t necessarily about your specific skill set or experiences and while they will touch on these areas, these initial interviews are more to assess whether you will be the right fit for their team. As most telephone interviews are held by HR, it’s all about people…think company culture, growth, training, development, benefits, well-being and team work.

It’s a dog-eat-dog world so you’ve got to make a lasting impression if you want to gain a spot in the next round, secure that role and become the ruler of Westeros. Hodor, we have all the best tips for you right here!

Telephone Interview Tips

Research, research, research!

Lack of preparation is a huge blunder for phone interviews, yet completely avoidable. Just like in a face-to-face interview, it’s important to research the company you are interviewing for. While your recruitment consultant will provide you with plenty of helpful information regarding the company, the role and the interview process, you should also be prepared to do a bit of the leg work yourself.

The best place to start is on the company website. Take a look at the information they have provided about themselves and their work, read their blog posts and news, and view their social media channels. It’s a great way to find snippets of information that you can use within your phone interview – because quite simply, employers want to know that you’re interested in the company and what they do.

It’s worth jotting down a couple of notes about the company, and have your CV, cover letter and the job description in hand to keep in front of you during the interview.

Be aware of your tone

Although it’s a lot easier to make a strong impression in person because you can rely on friendly body language, it’s still possible to do over the phone. Your tone will be analysed from the moment you pick up the phone so you must make a good first impression from the get-go. How you present yourself over the phone will determine whether the interviewer will want to call you back for a second stage interview so communicate clearly, be calm yet energetic and share your enthusiasm for the role. A great way to get your tone spot-on is to take cues from the interviewer and mirror the tone of the interviewer – is your interviewer speaking slowly and softly or fast and loud?

"Watch the tone of your voice. In a phone interview, your tone is your body language." - Abs Ahmed, Account Manager (AV)

Listen

One of the most important elements of a telephone interview is to listen to what the interviewer says. Do not interrupt the interviewer, let them finish their sentence and allow for a slight gap before you speak. This allows you to take on all aspects of their questions and think about what you should say before you answer. You’ll be able to pick out lots of valuable pieces of information regarding what the interviewer is after from a candidate just by listening to what they say.

Be passionate

This is your time to show how enthusiastic you are about the company and the role. Ask about different aspects of the job and show genuine interest in the position – don’t be afraid to request more details. Communicate clearly, be happy and relax, it will help you give more positive answers and sound more confident in what you are saying.

“Sound enthusiastic but don’t speak too fast – that makes you sound excitable. Take your time, listen carefully and if you haven’t understood the question, don’t be afraid to ask the other person to repeat it.” - Abs Ahmed, Account Manager (AV)

Remain Focused

Before the phone interview takes place, find the right space to sit during your interview and minimise all distractions from the area. Ensure that you are in a space with good reception and no loud noises so that you can give the interview your full attention. Clear the space that you’re sitting in, make sure that there’s nothing to fiddle with, say no to technology (no scrolling Instagram, reading emails, texting or watching TV) and remain focused on the task at hand.

Be Professional

From the moment you answer the phone, it’s important to be professional, efficient and polite on the phone. Answer the phone with your name, address the interviewer with their name and communicate clearly and concisely at all times.

Ask Questions

While you will be the one answering most of the questions, a telephone interview provides you with the opportunity to ask the interviewer questions about the company and job role. Before answering the phone, it’s key to prepare a few questions to ask the interviewer that show you’re interested in the position and also allow you to show that you are the perfect fit for the role.

End on a positive note

Always end a telephone interview on a positive note - be sure to thank the interviewer for their time and how you would like to discuss the opportunity in person. Show your enthusiasm for the role and moving forward by asking about the next steps of the interview process to gain insight on how long it will take to hear back from them and find out more information about the upcoming stages of the selection process.

Keep calm, second stage is coming. 

Photo Credit: HBO

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