Telephone Interviews: The Science of First Impressions

As your consultant our job is to help you present your abilities thoroughly. Not to distort the truth, but to ensure your strengths are highlighted.

Set up your phone zone: – Find yourself a quiet spot, with a fully charged phone and great signal. Don’t be caught off guard, make your way to your ‘phone zone’ in good time and make a note of your interviewer’s name (checking their LinkedIn profile and background may not be a bad idea either). It’s critical that you can be focused and centred throughout.

Chances are your consultant trusts you will succeed in this telephone interview for two reasons; the first, you’ve made it this far your ability to answer questions and know your background has been checked and your consultant concludes you have a good telephone manner. Maybe you didn’t know it but that preliminary phone call with your consultant was their way of covering that off! Secondly, you will have been thoroughly briefed on the role in question, responsibilites expected of you and prepped either this morning or yesterday evening – it’s all in the detail! With this in mind begin the call with confidence, outshine your competition and aim for the face to face.

In advance: – Make notes and know your CV. A huge positive to a telephone interview is the ability to make notes as you go, as well as before. Jot down example upon example and lay it all out in front of you. Take the time to read your CV, it may have been rewritten specifically for this role or built on over time either way your interviewer is likely to have your CV to hand and will expect you as the author, to know the content inside out.

In a 20-45 minute period, you have the chance to make a lasting impression and drive your career forward. Your answers to questions are considered and evaluated carefully. The night before ensure you have covered off and can answer:

  • What do I know about the company?
  • What do I know about the role?
  • What do I know about the interviewer/s?
  • Why do I want this job?

At some point during the interview, probably quite early on, you will recognise your interview as either formal or informal and your interviewer will probably slot into one of these boxes too. With this in mind, follow their lead, if the interviewer is business-like and wants only facts, match his or her pace and tone of voice and give just the facts. If the interviewer is more conversational in manner, interact and build rapport. In either scenario you should wear a smile and show enthusiasm. If you are a Sales professional consider how you qualify potential prospects and bear this in mind when preparing for the interview. Your interviewer will be trying to determine if you qualify for the position and warrant a face to face meeting. You are likely to be compared, sometimes indirectly, against a list of requirements which highlight your ability to carry out the role in question.  Advance reading of the job specification (sent by your consultant) will give you the opportunity to match your current role against the job specification, in turn offering you good opportunity to impress. Consider that this is a telephone interview and therefore time is limited, you want to ensure your answers are concise but relevant – anything you discuss now can be developed on at the next stage. Whilst Greenhill will endeavour to gather as much information in advance of the interview we advise you to consider the following, potential, circumstances:

  • A second person has been conferenced into the call
  • Sales professionals may be asked to role play
  • Distracting background noise
  • Signal dropping out / call waiting tone
  • Abrupt end due to time constraints / external factors

(This is not a definitive list of unplanned occurrences which may occur during the telephone interview).

Close with confidence, let your interviewer know you are grateful for their time and would welcome the opportunity to meet with them to discuss the role and company in further detail. If you are a sales professional do not be afraid to ask if they have any reservations about your ability to carry out the requirements of the role, this will show your ability to close deals. Please do be aware this is something they may be unable to answer at this stage. The best outcome you can aim for is to be invited in to meet with the hiring manager or similar before the call ends.  In this scenario thank them and wait to hear from your consultant who will arrange mutually beneficial time slots.

Above all else sell yourself and make a great first impression. If your consultant didn’t believe you could be your interviewer’s next hire you wouldn’t be on the phone! Provide enough information to get them hooked and hold back enough to continue shining at your face to face.