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How to make your telephone interview a success

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Here are some things to know before you pick up the phone.

The humble telephone interview might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to applying for jobs, but it’s becoming an increasingly important part of many employers’ recruitment process. The telephone call is the first gateway to getting your dream job: one where you and your potential employer can establish rapport and decide whether there is common ground, before advancing to the next stage of the hiring process.

With the war for talent heating up across Financial Services and General Insurance many companies are turning to their phones to create a much more streamlined, efficient recruitment process- especially as people are travelling from further and further afield to apply for jobs. With people more stretched for time than ever before- and the average recruitment process taking a lengthy 28 days- a phone interview is easy to schedule, and means that both candidate and client can avoid wasting the time and effort of an interview before they’re convinced that the candidate or company is right for them. 

However, with this new form of interview comes its own challenges. Though you’re not meeting face to face, telephone interviews need to be treated like formal interviews, and a lack of preparation means you could miss out on your dream job.

Here are some tips for getting it right.

Before the interview

Preparation is key, and to this end you should prepare for a telephone interview in the same way as you would a normal one: research the role and company. Read the job description and find out how the skills you have match up to the ones that they’re looking for. Many Financial Services executives view the phone interview stage as a good time to ask questions about your knowledge of issues like compliance and technical support, which might not make it onto your CV. Make sure you have an answer for them, if you want to come across as professional and passionate enough about your work to ensure you secure a face-to-face interview.

When it comes to practicalities, be aware of your phone battery. If using a mobile, is it fully charged and do you have a clear signal? Given that job applicants have only 6 minutes and 25 seconds in an interview to impress their interviewers, one thing you don’t want to happen is have your phone die. Have a pen and paper ready in front of you to take notes, or write down questions as they occur to you. To avoid coughing, have a glass of water to hand, and make sure that you’re in a quiet area where you won’t be disturbed during the call: a train carriage or busy office or pavement isn’t ideal!

During the interview

From the moment you pick up the phone, you’re being interviewed, so it’s important to act- and speak- accordingly. Your voice is the main instrument by which an interviewer is going to make their first impressions of you, so make sure you strike the right tone and project confidence with it. After all, 38% of the impact you make in an interview comes from the quality of your voice, grammar and confidence, and only 7% from what we actually say. 

With this in mind, avoid overlong hesitations, as it implies a lack of confidence. Instead, strike up some friendly conversation with the interviewer; introduce yourself formally and make sure your posture is perfect, as the way that you sit affects your voice. Sitting upright or standing will help you sound clearer and more confident; as a result, what you say will undoubtedly have more of an impact.

It’s also important that you stay calm. Many people who work in areas such as Compliance are non-customer-facing, and as such are often a little nervous when it comes to talking on the phone. This can lead to mistakes and that’s important to be aware of: one of the most common mistakes made in interviews is interrupting the interviewer. Though easily done, especially when nervous, it can also make you seem rude. Instead, take the time to listen, and don’t start speaking until you’re sure they’ve finished. 

After the interview

Though it’s only a preliminary step on the journey towards your dream job, it’s also important to end your phone interview in the right way. Thank your interviewer for their time before you end the call, and then make sure you call your recruitment consultant to discuss the interview: they’ll be able to talk through the process with you, and pass on any feedback they’ve received from your potential employers. 

After that, be patient and wait for them to get back to you: you’ve done all you can.

Set the right tone with IDEX Consulting