2. Application and interview advice

Telephone interviews

Telephone interviews are becoming more common in the application process. They offer employers an effective and convenient way to screen candidates in the initial stages. Candidates need to be as prepared as much as they would be for any face-to-face interview, especially as it can be difficult without the visual clues and being able to gauge a response from someone sitting in front of you. We offer some advice to help you get through the phone interview stage for a role in the industry…

Know what to expect

Telephone interviews are more likely to be a conversation around your general competences rather than an in-depth grilling of your core skills and knowledge. They’re used as an initial screening process and employers are often simply looking to gauge a candidate’s enthusiasm for the role and assess whether they should progress to the next stage. Therefore, focus more on trying to make a great first impression and be prepared to answer questions such as “Tell me about yourself” and “What interests you in this role?”

Don’t get caught out

Interviews are usually scheduled in advance. However if you do receive a call asking a few questions about your suitability for a role, don’t allow yourself to be caught in a difficult spot. You can be polite and ask the employer if they mind giving you a few moments to move to a quieter location. Alternatively, if you can’t find a quiet place to talk, see if it’s possible to rearrange the call for later.

Do your research

“Tell us what you know about us” is a great way for employers to filter out applicants who haven’t done their research and therefore aren’t truly interested in the role. Put aside time to research the organisation – be confident that you know exactly what they do and try to find a few key examples of their work that particularly interests you. Also be aware of some of the key topics or challenges in the industry sector at the moment.

Control your environment

Find a place that is quiet and somewhere you won’t be interrupted or distracted.  Also make sure your phone is charged and that you have good signal in this location. Have your CV and application in front of you to refer to and keep a pen and paper handy so you can write down any notes when needed.

Pace yourself

Don’t allow yourself to be rushed. The interviewer knows that you may need a few moments to compose yourself before answering a question. Take a deep breath before speaking and try not to get flustered.  Be patient and don’t let silences between questions put you off – remember that this may simply be the interviewer taking notes. Interviews can be more difficult without the visual clues you get in face-to-face interviews, but don’t let this make you lose focus.

Show your enthusiasm

First impressions are everything. What’s most likely to determine your success in a phone interview is whether you come across well on the phone and can portray a keen interest in the role. Smiling when talking is one of the best ways to help you relax and make you sound enthusiastic. Also try standing up to bring more energy into your voice. But whilst enthusiasm is important, don’t get ahead of yourself – listen what their saying and remain polite at all times.


As with any face-to-face interview, it’s all about preparation. Telephone interviews can be intimidating – but being confident that you’ve done your research and knowing the organisation well is the best way to reduce the effect of any nerves. Treat all interviews as practice – if it doesn’t go well the first time, try to learn from your mistakes and be aware of how you can improve on this to best help your chances next time round.