A telephone interview is a common way to interview clients and can be used for a number of reasons. Geographical constraints are commonly top of the list, but employers may use it to gather a final list for face-to-face interviews or to save time.
If given the choice between a telephone interview and a face-to-face, we would always recommend the face-to-face interview. However, here are a few things to consider if you are participating in a phone interview.
Prepare as if it is a face-to-face interview
Because telephone interviews are less formal some people slip into a mode of less research. Do not make this mistake, adequate research is just as important.
Don't stop at research; dressing smart as if you were face to face can help put you in the right frame of mind and make you feel more professional and confident. Standing up is also a good way of making your voice sound more animated. If you are sat in bed relaxing you may come across as a person who is not motivated or interested.
Choose the right environment
Recruitment agencies will usually call to arrange a telephone interview in advance so try and choose a time that's suitable for you. Try and take the call in a quiet and comfortable setting without any distractions.
If you can use a landline, so you don't lose signal or quality of call, if not make sure you take the call somewhere where there is plenty of signal.
If you applied for a position directly with the employer you don't always get a warning so if you receive a call whilst you are out and about or unprepared politely ask if they can call you back at a more convenient time.
If you can't avoid taking an interview at an inappropriate time or place, explain the circumstances and apologise to the interviewer beforehand. They will appreciate the fact that you are willing to take the call even though it is inconvenient and be more understanding if you aren't able to answer the questions to the best of your ability.
Make sure you have all your research and CV to hand. This is the only interview where you will be able to peruse notes so make the most of it. It's also a good idea to take notes so you have some points to pick up again in the next interview. You could even have the laptop on in case of emergencies.
When you are in a room with someone you will pick up bits of information subconsciously from their mannerisms and expressions, which you don't get on the phone. Listen carefully to what they are saying so you can respond in an appropriate tone and avoid talking over the interviewer. You need to know when to listen and when to talk so make sure you don't continually interrupt or talk over the person on the other end of the call.
Just like in a face-to-face interview it is good to prepare a few questions to ask at the end. Don't ask too many though, you want to save your best ones for the interview. Just choose a few to show your interest in the company and avoid asking about salary and benefits until you're invited back.
Don't make the mistake of just hanging up at the end of the call. Make sure you express your interest in the role and ask what the next steps are before politely finishing by saying you're looking forward to hearing from them again.