Not many things strike fear into the hearts of jobs hunters more than a random phone call from a recruiter wanting to know "if they have a couple of minutes to ask a few questions" about the job they applied for.

Most of the time, the poor candidate is caught short at their office, in their car or with the family.

However, while the approach might seem casual and low key, this first contact point is vital to get right, ensuring you successfully progress to the face-to-face interview.

Telephone interviews are used by both recruiters and companies as a key part of the initial screening process, saving time and ensuring they only end up interviewing applicants in person who meet their requirements.


Your ability to communicate clearly and think on the spot are all being judged in this so called 'quick informal chat'.

Stepping up

So how can you give a positive phone interview under pressure?

Take a moment

Unless it's a very difficult situation (such as your boss is standing in front of you), you want to ideally be able to answer the questions the interviewer is asking right then and there, in a calm and confident manner. However, in the heat of the moment, interviewees can rush into their answers and not give a good impression.

Therefore, when a recruiter phones you and asks if this is a good time, say "yes it is, but can you just give me 30 seconds to find a quiet spot?"

It's perfectly acceptable to stop and take a couple of moments to collect your thoughts. This gives you space to mentally place yourself into the role of job seeker and concentrate on the key requirements of the role you applied for.

Stand Up


If you are not already, you may find it easier if you stand up when you are being interviewed on the telephone. Standing helps you focus your attention and also gives your voice more energy and enthusiasm.

Minimise distractions
Try to find a quiet space away from distractions (such as co-workers, children or pets), allowing you to concentrate on the job at hand.
Don't smoke, chew gum, eat, or drin


Even though the interviewer will not see your face, smiling projects a positive image to the listener and will improve the tone of your voice.

Short answers

A telephone interview is not the time to go into extensive history about your career, qualifications and personal interests. Be 'interviewer led' and save the big long explanations for the face-to-face interview.

Ask for a face-to-face interview

The goal of this 'quick chat' is to organise an actual face-to-face interview. Therefore at the end of your conversation, thank the interviewer, then ask if it would be possible to meet in person.

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