Telephone interviews are often the first stage of the graduate recruitment process, so it’s important to make a good impression on the call. Prepare in advance, take the call in a quiet environment and stay enthusiastic when you are asking or answering questions.
More and more graduate recruiters are using a telephone interview as one of the early stages in the recruitment process. The telephone interview enables the recruiter to select the best candidates to put forward to the next step.
With that in mind make sure that you prepare for this stage of the recruitment process as you would any other stage. I like to think of it in terms of the X-Factor journey:
The online application as the ‘auditions’ stage.
The telephone interview as boot camp.
The face to face interview as ‘judges houses’.
The assessment centre as the live shows.
You still have to be good in the earlier stages to get all the way through to the live shows!
Typically you will be advised of when a telephone interview is going to take place, so make sure that you are ready for the call – don’t take the call when out shopping, don’t allow your three year old brother to answer the call for you, and do make sure your mobile battery is going to last! A telephone interview is the same as any other interview, it is just that you can’t see the other person, you still need to prepare for the interview as you would any other.
What the interviewer wants to find out
The recruiter conducting the telephone interview is assessing whether you have the communication skills required, whether you have a genuine interest in the position, if you have the skills needed for the role – and ultimately whether they should take the time to meet you in person. There are no visual clues over the phone so remember that communication is key – be confident and positive, smile – they will be able to hear the enthusiasm. Be comfortable, but not too comfortable – are you going to be at your best lying in bed in your PJ’s using the recruiters call as an alarm clock or would you feel more confident once you are up, dressed, and sitting (or standing) ready to answer any question the interviewer will ask?
As with any interview listen to the questions and structure your answers so that they are clear and concise – don’t ramble, and if there is a moment of silence the interviewer is most likely writing down what you are saying, not waiting for you to say more! There is a tendency to feel the need to cover your desk with interview preparation notes, but don’t let this be a distraction, keep it to a minimum, if any at all, the call will flow a lot easier if you are not constantly pausing, desperately searching for that example of your great organisational skills you wrote down earlier!
Once the recruiter has finished questioning you don’t forget to ask him or her questions of your own – this shows interest – ask about the company, their values, the next steps – anything that genuinely interests you and that is related to the company or the role. Once the call is over don’t forget to send a thank-you note or email, reiterating how much you enjoyed the call and that you are looking forward to hearing from them.