How to ace a phone interview

A phone interview is a common technique companies use to get to know a candidate. It is an easy way for them to identify the candidate’s experience and interest, and gauge whether they would be a good fit for the role.

Often, it is the first contact a candidate might have with the potential employer, making it the crucial time to make that all-important lasting impression.

But phone interviews can be last minute, leaving candidates little time to prepare. As a result, they can be a stressful experience for candidates.

To help, we asked our CK recruiters for their top advice, to give you a better idea of what is expected of you during the process.

1. Do your homework

Preparing for an interview might seem obvious to most, but with phone interviews tending to be organised last minute, a common misconception is that they are less formal and need less preparation. A mistake we see too often is candidates not taking this stage of the hiring process as seriously as they would a regular interview.

In reality it is quite the opposite. In a phone interview the interviewer is assessing you purely on your answers – therefore it is more important than ever to know what you are talking about. A phone interview is your one-chance opportunity to sell yourself, to ensure you get through to the next round. A lack of preparation will show and hinder your chances of success.

Our recruiters’ recommend treating a phone interview exactly the same as you would a face-to-face interview. Research the company, compile your answers and have questions ready – to help the interview flow.

It is also a good idea to review the job description in order to tailor your responses to the role, and to re-read your application as the interviewer will more than likely ask you to expand on certain points. After all, you can never be too over-prepared.

2. Have a practice run

Phone interviews can be particularly nerve-racking for some candidates, causing them to feel stressed and to not perform at their best.

To combat the nerves, we would recommend having a few practice runs beforehand. Ask a family member or a friend to conduct a mock phone interview and record it.

Not only will this help you rehearse answers to potential questions, it will also help you improve your technique. By listening back to the recording you will be able to pick up on certain things which need improving – for example, are you speaking too fast or too slow?

Alternatively, if you are applying for a CK role, one of our recruiters will happily conduct a practice run with you, giving you tips and recommendations along the way.

3. Create a checklist

Phone interviews tend to be shorter than face-to-face interviews; time feels more limited and topics and questions can go uncovered.

To make sure you get the most out of the experience, make a checklist of what you wish to cover; this might be relevant experience, qualifications or other information that would make you an attractive candidate.

A checklist can also come in handy when trying to compose structured answers when under pressure.

4. Choose the right location

It may be tempting to take the call while relaxing on the sofa, but this would go amiss with the interviewer.

Instead, choose a quiet room such as an office. Make sure there is good phone service and no background noises to distract you or the interviewer during the call.

And don’t forget to have a notepad ready to take notes as well as a glass of water.

5. Dress to impress

Get ready for the phone interview just as you would a real interview; dress to impress in business attire.

This will not only help you feel more confident but will also help you act as composed and professional as possible during the call.

6. During the phone interview

Answer the phone confidentially by stating your name, so that the interviewer knows they have reached the right person.

Speak clearly, listen to the interviewer and allow a little pause after questions. If you need a question repeating, don’t hesitate to ask. It is always better to ask for clarification rather than give an irrelevant answer.

7. Follow up after the interview

After your interview, if you can, send your interviewer a quick follow up email, thanking them for their time, reiterating your interest in the role and asking them to let you know if they need anything else from you.

If you have applied for the job through a recruitment agency like CK, call your recruitment consultant to let them know how you got on, and to pass on any feedback to the client.

And finally, good luck!

Applying for clinical jobs? For more tips and advice visit our career advice section here.