Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

9 Ways to Triumph During a Telephone Interview!

By Anthony Hughes | Jun 23, 2015 | Candidate Tips

telephone interview ringing phoneHow do you feel about telephone interviews?

More and more employers in search of top talent are utilising them as a time-saving exercise to cull candidates earlier on in the recruitment process.

Certainly not great news for poor job-seeking phone-a-phobes across the UK!

(You’d be surprised how many candidates ignore calls, yet quickly pick up emails!)

But don’t fear! Below, we’ve listed nine essential strategies to help you smash your next telephone interview!

1. Dress Professionally.

I know this may seem a little weird because your interviewer can’t actually see you, but dressing smarter will do a lot for your mentality during a telephone interview.

You’re bound to feel more professional, confident and generally on the ball which will come across in your tone of voice.

As you can imagine, it’s pretty easy for a telephone interview to get a little too casual, especially if candidates are feeling very chilled out, dressed in jim-jams or joggers.

2. Find an appropriate location.

You may be tempted to take part in a telephone interview on the go.  Don’t.  Ever.  Do anything you can to avoid this happening.

Disruptions, background noise and potential bad signal are guaranteed to irritate your interviewer and will negatively affect the entire process.

In fact, we’ve actually heard horror stories about employers who’ve conducted interviews whilst on the toilet (the toilet flush betrayed them).

Not advisable when trying to portray a professional image…and the same goes for candidates!

Recruiter Pro Tip:

I would personally recommend you turn call-waiting off on your phone.

Receiving any other call is bound to put you off, there’s a chance your interviewer will hear it and you’re not going to pick up anyway!

So what’s the use?

3. Give yourself enough time.

An average first-stage, fact-finding telephone interview will last roughly 30 minutes.

However, it’s certainly not a bad thing if the call runs over; that just shows that you’ve managed to engage their attention for longer than expected and is a really good sign!

It’s absolutely crucial that you don’t get interrupted before the end of your interview and you simply mustn’t cut it short, for any reason.

I would give yourself roughly 1 hour to play with, just in case.  Keep that in mind if you’re planning on scheduling a telephone interview with a recruiter over a lunch hour say.

Recruiter Pro Tip:

Some, interviewers might attempt to trick you into a telephone interview, by calling for an unscheduled ‘chat’

These interviewers are interested in talking to the ‘real you’ rather than the over-rehearsed, ‘interview-you’.

Remember to remain calm and collected and it’s completely within your right to politely (and with a good excuse) rearrange the call if you’re busy (or feel completely unready).

4. Do your research!

It’s true – telephone interviews are a lot more relaxed than face-to-face ones but that really, really doesn’t mean that you can get away without doing some sort of preparation.

In fact, I would recommend preparing just as thoroughly as you would for a face-to-face interview!

(Hopefully, you’re going to have to eventually – why not start as you mean to go on?)

At a bare minimum I’d recommend researching the company and job role!

Recruiter Pro Tip:

You could take advantage of the fact that your interviewer can’t see you and write up some notes on the company, job role and yourself to refer to during the call!

Try not to make it too obvious though; your interviewer will be able to tell if you’re reading sentences word-for-word like a script!

5. Practice your answers.

There are certain questions that will almost certainly crop up during the interview…in fact we recommend some of them to our clients in this blog

– Do you remember the role?

– Why did you decide to apply?

– Could you tell me a little bit about yourself and your current situation?

– Why are you leaving your current workplace?

– Why do you think you’re right for the role?

…but beware, there may also be a couple of left-field questions thrown in too.

If you’re really not sure how to answer then here’s some inspiration: 10 Typical Interview Questions & How to Answer Them.

6. Be Prepared With Your Own Questions!

Being prepared with a list of impressive questions for your interviewer is a great way to show your genuine interest and commitment to the role.

But that’s not all!

The telephone interview is also your chance to suss out whether the role and company are right for you, so asking the right questions could save you a lot of time.

(Assuming you don’t want to attend as many interviews as possible to gain some practice!)

Recruiter Pro Tip:

There are a variety of things that you should know before accepting a job offer (click here to check out what some of them are) and the earlier you know them, the better.

Remember though –  the telephone interview might be a little too early to start asking about salary and perks!

If there’s anything that doesn’t sound right, you can choose whether you’d like to cancel the interview – saving yourself and the interviewer time and money.

7. Watch Out for the Tone of Your Voice.

Your telephone interviewer cannot see you and therefore will be basing their decision on two things:

What you say and exactly how you say it!

Make sure that your tone sounds energetic, interested and enthusiastic and that you don’t come across a little too chilled (and possibly disinterested).

A good trick is to stand up whilst on the call because studies show that people genuinely think better on their feet!

Thinking quicker and sounding confident will double your chances of going through to the next round.


Did you know that humans can naturally tell if someone is smiling just from the sound of their voice?

Would you rather hire a friendly, happy, smiler or a sour-faced, nervous grumbler?

Whether you’re feeling terrified, angry, frustrated or sad, turn that frown upside down and your interviewer will sense it.

Oh and smiling also apparently changes your brain!

Take Notes!

Finally, it’s absolutely vital that you listen and take notes during the telephone interview.

If you drop in subtle little facts and information relayed during the call, your interviewer is guaranteed to be impressed, by your memory and listening skills.

It certainly implies that you’re genuinely interested in them and the role!

Of course, your notes will also give you a great chance to assess how well you think the interview went and whether you genuinely think the opportunity is right for you.


We know that telephone interviews can we nerve-racking, stressful and even intimidating, but if you follow the 9 steps above and remain calm you’re guaranteed to make a good impression!

To seal the deal, don’t forget to follow-up on your interview with a quick email, thanking your interviewer for their time and stating your continued interest in the role.

Good Luck!

- Anthony Hughes

Anthony Hughes

Anthony is a recruitment veteran of 18 years and is also one of the original founders of Coburg Banks. He now trains recruitment consultants on the best methods to utilise when sourcing and assessing applicants for their clients. 


> More blog posts by Anthony Hughes

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