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  • Andrea Shavick

How to survive a telephone interview

Telephone interviews are a popular way for companies to screen candidates quickly and efficiently with very little cost. Most take less than 30 minutes and will include a discussion about your CV, why you want the job and a mixture of competency type questions, for example:


  • Describe a situation in which you managed conflict at work

  • How would you handle a work colleague who didn’t pull their weight?

  • Describe a situation in which you led a team


How to prepare


Firstly, schedule the interview for a time when you know you won’t be interrupted. If this is at home, plan to turn off the TV (and Alexa!) and have someone else look after the kids.


Next, download a list of the most popular competency questions and think about your answers and write them down. You also need to think about why you want the job (other than the money) and why you’d be good at it.


Then practice. Give your CV and the job description to a friend and ask them to interview you over the telephone. Pick somebody who will give you completely honest feedback, not just about your answers but also the sound quality and your voice.


Always ensure you have details of who’s calling you, a copy of your CV and the job description to hand. You might like to use a headset which makes sifting through papers easier as you won’t need to hold the phone.


Remember to charge your phone and be ready 15 minutes before the appointed time, just in case they call early. Also, set a reminder for yourself…you don’t want to forget and go out shopping!


Handling the call itself


Remember a telephone interview is as important as a face-to-face interview so treat it as such:


  • Wear smart clothes. This will make you feel more confident and professional

  • Be friendly and polite throughout the entire conversation

  • Smile as you talk. This will make you sound sociable and pleasant.

  • Sit up straight. This will help your voice to project more clearly

  • Ask questions. This shows interest and turns a boring interview into a conversation.


At the end of the interview there’s no harm in asking about the next stage of the process. If they want to meet you face-to-face, find out exactly when and where. If they say you’ll be taking some psychometric tests, ask which types so you know exactly what to practice.

Finally, never be tempted to ask a friend to take the test for you. Believe me, you’ll be found out!



Andrea is the author of 7 books on job-hunting and psychometric tests including Practice Psychometric Tests, Passing Psychometric tests, Psychometric Tests for Graduates and Management Level Psychometric and Assessment Tests, all available at Amazon and other good bookshops. www.shavick.com

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