How should I prepare for a telephone interview?

In terms of what you have to say about yourself and the role, almost all of the basic advice on how to prepare for a face-to-face interview applies to job interviews conducted over the phone. But how you communicate during the interview needs to compensate for the absence of non-verbal cues:

  • Resist the temptation to talk too quickly. It’s often harder to follow someone’s voice alone than to see and hear them talking to you.
  • Verbalise pauses – better to preface a long pause with “let me think about that a moment” than leave the interviewer hanging uncomfortably in unexplained silence.
  • Agree a time when you can give your interviewer your full attention and find a quiet place where you can speak without interruptions.

One apparent advantage of the phone over a face-to-face interview is that you can have your notes in front of you, but this can be your undoing if you haven’t practiced your answers until you know them off by heart anyway – what if you can’t find the answer you need among your papers? Instead pare your prompts down to a series of bullet points that signpost responses you’ve already got stored in your head.

And it’s worth thinking about dressing and behaving for the occasion. Good luck to you if you can genuinely get into the right mindset for an interview lying on the settee in your pajamas. However, we’d recommend you put on some smart clothes and sit down at a desk. The interviewer may not be able to see that you look the part, but as long as you feel it, that’s what is likely to come across. 

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