How To Succeed At A Telephonic Interview

Posted: August 1, 2011

With telephone interviews used commonly, handling it well on phone is essential. Some useful interview tips for women searching for jobs.

By Jaya Narayan

Amrita Samant, 25, Human Resources Executive currently in the process of switching jobs has become a veteran in appearing for telephone interviews. In Amrita’s experience, “All new age companies have embraced telephonic interviewing like never before. In fact, with one prospective employer, I had 7 rounds of telephonic interviewing! Though I understand the benefits of a telephonic interview, my grouse is that interviewing over a telephone isn’t easy”.

There are multiple objectives for which a telephone interview is scheduled during the hiring process and one needs to be suitably prepared. According to Shyamala Krishnan, 38, Managing Partner, E Milestones India, a staffing firm, “The first telephonic contact is an exploratory discussion with the recruitment manager. The most common purpose for which a telephonic round is scheduled is to evaluate the candidate on their functional or domain skills. For senior roles, an in-depth telephonic discussion with key stakeholders (including their prospective boss) is expected.”

Here are some interview tips to guide you, if you ever have to handle a telephone interview:

Basic preparation for telephone interviews

Amrita prepared for telephone interviews by ‘learning’ to keep her conversations short. “I realized over a period of time that the interview questions tended to be shorter and to the point. In fact interviewers cut me off when I took too much time to answer a question.”

The preparatory checklist before a telephonic interviewing includes:

1. Enquiring about the objective of the telephonic discussion.
2. Asking for a copy of the job description to help you understand the role in as much detail as possible.
3. Getting the interviewer’s name, brief profile and his/her designation.
4. Making notes on your resume to help you recall your past achievements, challenging roles that you have performed, and critical incidents that prove your professional competencies.
5. Doing an in-depth research on the company including looking up their website, reading about the industry in general, knowing about competition.
6. Being ready to answer some tricky interview questions.
7. Jot down a few questions which you may like to ask the interviewer.
8. If possible, arrange a mock call with a friend just to get a feel of interviewing over the telephone.

Tushar Pai, 32, Senior Project Manager, Tech Mahindra, an IT services company, prefers candidates who do not overplay their strengths and achievements during a telephonic interview. He says, “As an employer anything on your resume which cannot be supported by credible examples leaves a bad impression”. When in doubt choose being truthful and candid during the conversation.

Before attending a telephone interview

Aruna RB, Freelance HR Consultant suggests that you look for a quiet zone without any interruptions, at least 10 minutes before the scheduled interview slot. Make sure that you test the incoming reception and outgoing voice quality of your telephone before the scheduled time. In addition, basic paraphernalia like a pen, note pad, water, a printed copy of the resume and the job description need to be kept handy.

Common telephone interview mistakes

According to Aruna, “Interviewing on the phone is challenging for both the interviewer and interviewee. The interviewer has limited time to make the decision on you. You can help by being as clear and articulate as possible”.

In the absence of any visual body language cues, the major factor that makes an impression on your profile is how you communicate. Energy level and enthusiasm are easily conveyed through your voice. Paraphrasing questions especially when you do not follow the accent is better than answering the wrong question!

Listening is as important as speaking in a telephone interview. Interrupting while the interviewer is speaking leaves a bad impression and could spoil your chances of being selected. If any query pops into your mind while the interviewer is speaking, note it down quickly and ask once he/she has finished. The most important advice to remember is that there is a time and place for any sensitive questions that you may have. Also remember to greet the interviewer as well as sign off the call politely.

In its mechanics, telephone interviews are deceptively informal as one cannot feel the real pressure of being evaluated. Taking the phone interviewing process seriously can help your job search tremendously and ensure that you are the preferred candidate who gets called for a face-to-face interview.

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1 Comment


  1. Jaya ….you have managed to cover the essence very well….very crisp, have always liked your writing style. ATB

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