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Preparing for Telephone and Online Interviews
Telephone Interviews

When you are preparing for a telephone interview with a potential company, make sure you have done your research and have read the job description. Also ensure you have visited the company website, and that you have a good understanding of what they do, their values, where they are heading and even who their competitors are. This will massively increase your chances of success because it makes you look proactive and interested in the role. Make sure you check the location for feasibility so that you don't waste your or the companies time. 


Find out beforehand if you are to call the employer or if they are going to call you. It sounds obvious, but you’ll be glad you checked.

If you are calling the company, always think about how you start the call, and use lines such as 'Hi, My name is... I had a missed call from... earlier on today/yesterday etc. Is it possible to speak to them now?' in order to sound professional and give a great first impression.

Image by Kelly Sikkema

Tips to ensure your telephone interview runs smoothly

1. Understand Why You’re Being Asked to do a Telephone Interview

Telephone interviews are a really useful stage for many graduate employers. They will be more informal than a face to face interview and as such the employer is looking to get a rounded sense of who you are, what experience you have, and what you can offer them. You should focus on conveying your enthusiasm and interest in the role and in their company. If you aren’t applying for a role where phone skills are key, then it’s unlikely you will be heavily penalized for sounding nervous or not having a polished phone voice! It’s perfectly normal to be nervous and this is something your interviewer will be expecting. Try to remember your interviewer is there to do their job, not to judge you personally.

2. Take Advantage Of The Situation

In a face to face interview, you won’t have the company website at hand and it wouldn’t be professional to have a bullet point list of your most relevant skills and experience in front of you. But this isn’t a face to face interview. It makes perfect sense to make some bullet point notes (avoid directly reading paragraphs from your CV, it will be obvious and dull) and if they have specifically asked you to prepare answers to some questions that are even better. Keep your answers short, relevant and effective. Practice giving answers and record yourself if you can so you can identify where you might need to slow down.

3. Don’t Rush

Younger generations particularly have a tendency to rush phone calls so they can get off the phone! Don’t rush. Speak clearly and be mindful to speak slowly. Have a glass of water nearby so you can take a sip when the interviewer is speaking, this should help you resist the urge to jump in and talk over them, which is something we are all guilty of doing when we are nervous. If you’re asked a tricky question that you weren’t prepared for, don’t rush to say the first thing that comes to your head. You can say ‘let me reflect on that for a moment’ and take time to think it through. If you don’t understand a question, it is far better to ask for clarification than to get it wrong and answer with something irrelevant.

4. Find a Calm and Quiet Environment

Ensure you’ll have adequate time (leave extra time to prepare and in case the interview runs over) in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Try not to be in the car but be somewhere with a good phone signal, ideally on a landline and put your mobile on silent so that you are not disturbed at all. Move televisions, laptops, iPad’s and even books or magazines out of your line of vision so you can focus on the task at hand.

5. Remain Focused

Just because this isn’t as formal as a face to face interview, it doesn’t make it any less important. Give yourself plenty of time to spare and even dress smartly to help you focus. Sit at a desk and open your body up before the call have a scan over the notes you have prepared. If it feels comfortable for you, stand up when you take the call. People often find this gives their voice more energy and enthusiasm. Answer the phone professionally, ‘Good Afternoon, .............. speaking’ or ‘Good Afternoon, may I please speak with Jean Cloe? I am scheduled for a phone interview at 2 pm  this afternoon with her.’ If you can, take some notes. Remember any key information they give you and any good answers you give; this can help you in the next stage. Your mentality is the key to your success in this sense.

6. Remember That This Is An Initial Stage Interview

Finally, remember the stage of the interview and what is appropriate. When you’re asked if you have any questions avoid any about salary and start dates, especially ones about holidays and lunch hours! Instead, sensible questions can include what you should expect from the next stage of the interview when you would be likely to hear back from them about this interview and if there is anything they would like you to explain further. 

Bonus Tip:

Know beforehand if you are to call the employer or if they are going to call you. It sounds obvious but trust us - you’ll be glad you checked.

Written by Sophie Chadwick

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Video-call Interviews

With candidates increasingly looking abroad for their perfect graduate job, employers are turning to technology to solve their recruitment conundrums.

Graduate interviews are daunting no matter where they take place, and for many, the prospect of facing a camera and computer screen rather than an interviewer face-to-face can be even more nerve-wracking. Interviews via webcam certainly have their disadvantages, but there are also many tricks that can be used to ensure they run smoothly, and even give you an advantage over a more traditional interview setting. If you have been asked for an interview on Skype take a deep breath and read our tips for success:

The same rules apply


Whether your interview is in an office with your potential employer just 3 feet away, or in your living room with your new boss separated by several time zones, the same rules apply.  Prepare thoroughly by researching the job specification and company, by drafting strong answers to common graduate interview questions and by reading through your graduate CV for examples to include when demonstrating your competence.  One benefit of a Skype interview is that you can keep notes visible to you but not your interviewer in case nerves get to you, but be discreet when referring to them as scripted answers will obviously appear as such.

Dress for success


Remember you will be on camera, so dress as smartly as you would if you were in the same room. Dressing professionally will also help you get into a more appropriate mindset for a formal interview.  It is also important to make sure the area visible on camera is tidy, uncluttered and well presented as it will reflect badly on you if there are dirty plates and laundry littering your living room.

Do not disturb


Make sure you will have room for yourself for the entire interview. Even if you have a good headset or microphone, any outside noise such as pets, children, background music or slamming doors will muffle the sound and make it very hard for you and your interviewer to hear each other. Certainly do not risk using an internet café or public space as you will have no control over any interruptions. A quiet room will also help you concentrate on forming the best answers possible.

Don't fidget


It is easy to forget that you are on camera due to the familiarity of the setting, but be careful not to fidget, scratch your head or cover your mouth. Body language is as important in a video-call interview as in a more conventional location, so sit up straight, think carefully about how you are projecting yourself and smile.

Testing...testing...1, 2, 3


Technology is infamously temperamental, so make sure you test all of your equipment prior to the scheduled call. Ideally, find a friend or relative who can call you an hour or two beforehand so that you have time to resolve any technical hitches which may arise.  Although problems may arise which are out of your control, foreseeing possible difficulties will ensure that you come across as organised and professional, as well as technically able, which will impress your prospective employer. 

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