The Communications Clinic
The Communications Clinic
September 8, 2020

Clients who come to us for job interview preparation often say they have no worries about the phone interview part.

“The recruiter told us it was just a chat.”

It’s never “just a chat.” 

Sure, it could be an informal, get-to-know-you. But it could also be a screening interview to decide whether or not you move forward to the next stage.

The interviewer might keep it general and ask you to tell them about yourself. Or, they might dig a little deeper and ask you some “tell me about a time when … ” questions to draw out your relevant skills and experiences.   

At the very least, this is an opportunity for you to make a strong and memorable first impression.

You need to be prepared.

Here’s how:

Treat it as a real interview –  Have a plan. What are the essential skills and experiences outlined in the job spec? Prove you have what the company needs with strong examples lined up, ready to use.

Get to the point – A phone interview (like most in-person ones) usually starts with a version of the “tell us about yourself” question. You want to nail the answer to this – especially on the phone when you have less time. Don’t take the interviewer on a chronological walk-through your CV. Frame this answer around achievements you’ve had that are relevant to the role.   

Be warm and enthusiastic – Make a point of sounding bright, engaged and upbeat. Avoid slouching in your chair and sit up straight – as if you were in the room. 

Be wary of notes – People think they can “get away with” reading answers from a stack of notes because the interview can’t see them. You don’t want to sound too scripted or rehearsed. You really don’t want the interviewer to hear you shuffling papers before you answer. If it helps, have a few post-its with key points you need to remember during the call.

Practice out loud – In other words, talk to yourself. Thinking through answers in your head is next to useless. You need to practice verbally for a verbal interaction.

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