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Dial T for Telephone Interview

Whether you're applying to a gigantic multinational behemoth or an up-and-coming boutique, it's becoming increasingly likely that you'll have to sit a telephone interview as part of the recruitment process. With competition for places still fierce (78% of the top graduate employers recorded either an increase or no change in the number of applicants during 2012-2013 ), the telephone interview can be an effective tool for employers to give as many applicants as possible a chance to make an impression and show their potential.

So how can you ensure that, when it comes to your interview, you make as good an impression as possible? Well, FreshMinds Talent has put together a few tips that will help you make all the right calls (no more telephone puns, promise).

1. Be polite

Not attending in person means you lose the initial chance to shake hands and have a brief chat on the way to the interview room. You also lose the ability to give the interviewer visual cues that you're interested, understand what's being said and generally are engaged (not a telephone pun) with the entire process. So when you're inevitably asked how you are and how the day is going, "yeah… fine…" would not make for such a great start. Remember, this is your time for a bit of chat before getting down to business. This is more common than you think and easy to forget when nervous!

2. Be prepared (but not over-prepared)

Telephone interviews are normally;

a. shorter than face-to-face interviews; and
b. focused on competencies and motivations

So make sure you have suitable answers to cover a host of potential competency-based questions. You should, at this stage, have an idea of what sort of work you'll be doing and what the requisite skills and qualities are. Have a think of times you've had to display these - and don't make it one from five years ago - this gives the impression that perhaps you've not been using the required skills recently and indeed might not possess them. Remember; it's not up to the interviewer to assume you're excellent at everything, it's up to you to tell them.

3. Answer the question

  • Tell me about a time you took control of a failing situation"
  • "OK, well I actually have 3 examples of this…"

The test here is to see how well you can identify all the relevant skills you used in a particular scenario, how well you can convey this to someone and to explore what you took away from the experience. A list of times you worked in a team is not really what we're looking for here - practically everyone has worked in a team at some point but not everyone can talk about the experience in an informative manner and articulate the relevant and interesting points, so don't skimp on the detail. If you’re having trouble formulating competency answers, remember the STAR technique:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Actions
  • Result

This should enable you to structure your answer well and help you get all the relevant points down.

More tips on top telephone technique in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if there is anything else you'd like us to focus on in an upcoming blog post/newsletter, please tweet @FMTalent and remember to check our website for details of all the great roles we're recruiting for!