Telephone Interview? Here’s a Step-by-Step to Ace It


tele int blog post

Perfecting your CV was painstaking. Filling in that application form took an age. As for that cover letter? Safe to say that writing a totally original introduction is far harder than it sounds. But it’s all paid off – and now you’re booked in for a phone or Skype interview.

This extra hurdle is common for positions where the competition is especially fierce. And not only are you competing with more applicants, you also face the prospect of being blind to the subtle expressions that can tell you what the interviewer is thinking. This challenge isn’t to be underestimated – phone interviews can be incredibly tough gigs without the right preparation (which is right about where this step-by-step guide comes in).

1. Practice, Practice, Practice (Then Practice Some More)

Forget the mock mirror interviews. You won’t need to video record your practice questions either. Focus solely on recording yourself by audio only, and listen to the ways in which you can most effectively express yourself with your voice alone. 

Grab the commonly asked interview questions below, record your answers, playback, and repeat. Ask yourself – would you be inviting you to an in-person interview, if you were them?

Tell us about your current position

Programming challenges

Do you have any examples of your work?

What is your experience level with XYZ?

What's the hardest challenge you have had to overcome — and how did you approach it?

Describe your programming habits

Tell us a little bit about yourself


2. Go Full Boy Scout – And Always Be Prepared

Make sure you have your CV to hand, a list of questions you’d like to ask the employer, and brief notes on key points you want to talk about. When practicing, gathering your materials and putting together your questions, remember to continually ask yourself – how does all of this relate to the position? It’s a good idea to read, and re-read the job description so it’s forever etched in your memory.


3. Distractions – Lock the Door Behind You!

As one expert found, distractions can totally detract from what you’re there to talk about. For you, rather than becoming an instant internet sensation, this may mean that you fail to cut the mustard for the next round of interviews. So lock that door, turn off the phone or the laptop (depending on which you’re using for your interview!) and make everyone aware of when your phone call or Skype session is happening.

You should also make sure the table in front of you is totally clear of items, save for those all-important talking points and other documents you’ll have to hand.

tele int pic 2

4. Skyping – Messy Beds, Underpants, Fido and Body Language

A Skype interview brings to the table a whole new number of things to think about. Here’s our quick-fire run-through…

-     - Remember to wear a shirt and tie, just as you would for an in-person interview (you’ll probably want to put on some pants, too – just in case you have to grab a document from the other side of the room – crisp and clean Calvin Kleins probably aren’t on your interview’s list of nice-to-haves).

-     - Take a look around at the background – unmade bed? Inch-thick dust on the shelf? Fido who might just wake from his slumber for a little self-clean-down? Yup – best to go with a plain background in a clutter-free (and pet-free) corner.

-     - Test a few angles and different sitting positions – you want the interviewer to be able to see your body language – the hand gestures, the confident way you’re sitting, your facial expressions.

-     - Practice with a friend – Hand them some interview questions to ask. Throughout your practising note how you can engage with them, and practice maintaining eye contact (it might also be a good idea to screen record the session).

5. Last but Not Least – Charge Up

Don’t, whatever you do, forget to charge your phone or laptop before the interview session (don’t even chance it – having to plug in mid-way through can hit your stride hard, and is a sure-fire way of demonstrating your disorganisation skills).

And that’s it – with plenty of practice done and dusted, the interview corner set, the phone or laptop charged, it’s time to get some kip (and if your interview is in the afternoon, a 30-minute powernap might not hurt).

If you would like further advice on tech interviews, then do get in touch with us – or call 0117 428 9400.

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