Many employers use telephone interviews to screen applicants. Follow our five top tips to help you get through to the next stage of the recruitment process!

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare just as you would for any type of interview

  • Research the sector, organisation and role and think about your genuine reasons for wanting the role.
  • Review your application and think about which parts have led to you getting the telephone interview and whether there are any areas that may raise questions.
  • Prepare for key competency and motivation questions.
  • Think of questions you wish to ask them at the end.
  • Deal with any nerves with some simple voice warm up exercises, and positively visualise a successful call before it begins.

2. Think about your environment

  • Answer the phone professionally and take the call in a quiet location.
  • Switch off other devices and give the interviewer your full concentration.
  • Sit or stand by a table with a copy of your application.
  • Use cue cards or stick notes on the wall to act as interview prompts.
  • Make notes to help you focus on the question.
  • If your reception/line is bad tell the interviewer and arrange a call back.

3. Sound enthusiastic!

  • With no visual cues, tone of voice and pace is really important. Smile when you’re talking to show you’re enjoying the process.
  • Use examples where you enjoyed the experience to convey your enthusiasm.
  • Don’t write your answers beforehand and then just read them out. You’ll come across as flat and disinterested.
  • Talk clearly, distinctly and at a reasonable pace. Practising out loud should help.
  • Don’t be unsettled if you aren’t getting any verbal feedback. This is common.

4. Think about the structure of your answers

  • Familiarise yourself with the STAR approach (Situation, Task, Action, Result) and ‘think in threes’ – ie. have three key points for open ended questions such as ‘why do you want to work here?’ Drafting notes beforehand under these headings can be really helpful.
  • Remember to give enough evidence but keep your answers succinct. Telephone interviewers often have a set number of questions to get through in a tight time-frame.
  • Pause after a question has been asked to help you structure your answer.
  • Ask for clarification if you don’t understand or didn’t hear a question.
  • If the interviewer pauses, don’t just keep talking. They may still be taking notes or seeing how you respond to the silence. Don’t start talking again – they’ll start speaking again when they’re ready.

5. Finish the interview on a positive note

  • Ask questions at the end but recognise the interviewer may not have the answers or be directly involved in the department.
  • End on a positive note and thank your interviewer.
  • Reflect on the interview and make a note of any questions you were asked. This should help you if you’re successful in getting through to the next round.

For more information see the telephone interviews section on the LSE Careers website.

Good luck!

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