Sometimes companies will ask you for a telephone interview before a face to face one. This is used to narrow down the number of applicants and is especially true in the following cases. When candidates have to travel a long way, in this way the company can cut down on travel expenses. When there are a lot of candidates and when CV screening may not be sufficient; personality may be a key factor in this kind of job. Finally when the job you’ve applied for involves a lot of talking to people on the phone.


If you are calling them, you should have a specific time. Be punctual and call at the precise time. Too early shows you are over enthusiastic and too late shows lack of interest. If you can’t get through, leave a message with the receptionist to show you called at the right time. If they have said they will call you then they might do it at any time. Because of this you need to be ready for a phone interview at a moment’s notice; preparation is vital. Firstly find out as much as you can about the company and the job. Then make a note of any questions you want to ask and have a note book and pen ready along with a copy of your CV.


Once you are ready to make or receive the call, make sure all TVs and radios are switched off and that you are in a quiet room with the door shut. When talking on the phone your tone of voice is all important. It might help to do a practice interview with a friend or family member. If you tape it you can see how you sound and work on reducing hesitations and the “ums” and “ahs” you use. You can also rehearse answering typical questions such as; “Tell me about yourself”.


When you answer the phone, announce your name in an enthusiastic way and, throughout the interview, sound interested and energetic. Be succinct, give short answers and don’t go on and on in a long winded fashion. Likewise don’t swear or use colloquialisms or jargon; you might be tempted to, in order to seem cool or fashionable, but don’t! It would be a good idea to have glass of water nearby, in case your throat gets dry, but don’t smoke, eat or chew gum. Speak slowly and clearly and take your time. Use the person’s title, Mr. or Mrs. and their last name, regularly throughout the conversation. Also, use the company’s name from time to time but don’t address the interviewer by his or her first name unless asked to. Smile! This will change the tone of your voice and project a positive image to the listener.


Closing the interview is an important ability in itself. You need to show your enthusiasm at some stage by asking for a date to meet for a face to face interview. If the interviewer doesn’t give a direct answer you could offer to call again at a later date to find out; you have to be keen but not pushy.


After the interview take notes about what you were asked and how you answered. Send a thank you letter or email which reinforces your interest in the job.


arrow down (verb) Define clearly

CV screening (noun) Elimination of certain candidates from examination of their CV

Punctual (adj) On time

Precise (adj) Exact, definite

Succinct (adj) Clearly expressed in a few words

Long winded (adj) Tediously long in speaking, using too many word

Swear (verb) Use bad language

Colloquialisms (noun) Conversational and informal phrases and words

Jargon (noun) Specialised, technical language

Pushy (adj) Aggressively ambitious