Telephone interview tips!

Telephone interviews are traditionally used for roles requiring lots of phone work: sales, tech support, market research roles, … the Covid-19 pandemic has made them more popular for all preliminary interviews. They are quick and easy ways of ironing out tangible impediments and avoiding the loss of time for both parties. Even if the exchange doesn’t lead to next stage interview, if appreciated, interviewers may ask to keep your CV and contact you when another opportunity arises. Recruiters are the most aware of the company recruitment pipeline. Please read this article in conjunction with Professional Video Calls.

Keep smiling

A lot is in the tone of your voice, one of the very first things I learnt when I started work was that a smile can be heard on the phone. Never truer words were spoken!!


Of the five senses, only the ears are used in telephone interviews!!! Keep answers succinct no off subject talk!

Remember who is leading the interview!

Let the interviewer lead the interview! Don’t overpower the conversation.

Speak at a normal pace!

Be aware of speaking too fast through nervousness. You must be audible to the person at the end of the phone line.

Worried you don’t have the right image!

If the interview is uniquely by telephone, your appearance is out of the equation!

Prompt Cards!

No one can see down the telephone so you can literally have a pile of prompt cards spread out in front of you, to help you with your answers! 

Make yourself comfortable

If the interview is from your home, you are at liberty to make yourself as comfortable as you like!

Block out parasite noises!

Airpods or equivalent are good for cutting unwanted background noise. Shut doors, close windows, …

Be concise!

As in face to face interviews, you should also keep your answers concise. No rambling!

Have your CV next to your prompt cards!

Assuming your telephone interviews is the first interview, your CV will be the basis of any discussion.

Prepare yourself!

The interview is the same as a face to face one, you must be prepared! Research the company, have a few bullet points on your prompt cards. Every interview is important in a tough job market. If it’s difficult to get an interview, you have to make an impression at every stage! Remember quality over quantity!


At the end of the interview you are normally invited to ask questions. If you can’t think of any and assuming this interview is a preliminary, always ask what the next steps will be if you are selected.


It’s up to you if you want to send a “polite thank you for our conversation message”. In a tough environment it may set you apart from another solid candidate. It’s also part of showing you are motivated. Please also read Interview: Fail to plan, plan to fail


Finally … don’t assume you are one of hundreds of applicants and it’s not worth the effort. Even when there is high unemployment, it’s not because there are many on the market, they are suitably qualified for the job! In my experience finding top candidates is hard work, that’s why recruitment consultancies exist! If you have a telephone interview, it’s because a recruiter saw potential in you on paper! Don’t waste your chance.  

Lynda Petit is a French British recruitment consultant with 20+ years’ experience, CIPD qualified, member of the ANDRH and operating in France.

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