15 Tips To Help You Move Your Next Telephone Interview To A Face to Face Interview

The development of the internet over the last few years has allowed job boards to become global recruitment tools and candidates from all over the world to apply.  Given, it’s now so easy to apply for a new job, candidates will often try their luck and apply to hundreds of different jobs.

More candidates means less time per candidate.  Less time per candidate means there is a good chance your first job interview will be an interview on the phone, rather than a face-to-face in the office.

Short On Time

The average face-to-face interview lasts around an hour. This means for a recruiter to interview five candidates, nearly their entire day will be consumed on the one role. The average recruiter will probably me managing somewhere between 40 and 60 positions at any one time, and not have the time to spend an entire day interviewing every candidate that is relevant and has applied.

As a result, telephone interviews are being used as a great way to weed out the good candidates from the bad.  Telephone interviews will usually be a screening interview, where your CV is relevant to a specific role, but has not initially impressed the hiring manager.

Your telephone interview is likely to be your one chance to impress and get your experience, knowledge and talent across. 

Telephone Interview

​From a candidate perspective, a telephone interview is likely to be the most challenging interview that you’ll face as it’s just you and the voice at the end of the telephone. You’ll have no idea what he/she looks like or what they’re doing while you’re talking. Maybe they’re listening to each word you’re saying, but for all you know, you could be on a loudspeaker while the interviewer at the other end of the line is busy working on their emails and only partially paying attention to you.

In a normal face-to-face interview, you’re given the opportunity to build rapport with your interviewer, whilst sitting opposite to them gives you the opportunity to use their body language to influence how you answer interview questions. If you see the interviewer nodding away to what you’re saying, it’s likely you’re on the right track with your answers. With a telephone interview, you only have your voice and therefore to be successful you need to prepare and ensure that you come across in the right way.

Telephone Interview Preparation

Below are 15 points to help you with your telephone interview and ensure the next telephone interview you’re involved with is a success.

  • You Sound How You Dress – To sound your best down the telephone, you need to make sure that you look the part with a suit, shirt and tie. Dress the Part, Act the Part and You will Sound the Part.
  • Always Use A Landline – ​Cell Phone service is never 100% reliable no matter where you are in the world. The last thing you want is the service to run out or partially drop during your interview temporally. If you don’t have a land line, and therefore have to use your mobile, make sure that you’re in a quiet place with as much cell phone service as possible, and your battery is fully charged. Over the years, I have interviewed hundreds of candidates whose battery ran out during the interview. If I am having a good day, I would try and call you back, but if I am having a bad day and have not been impressed with what you’ve said so far, it’s more than likely your interview is over.
  • Always Stand Up When You Speak – I started my career in a “sales centre” which I consider to be the only mistake in my career. I only lasted six months as I was not very good at “closing on the telephone.” Probably the only thing I did learn was that you need to stand up when you speak on the telephone. Why? When you’re standing, you naturally project more confidence and energy into your voice which will help give the image that you are a confident person. Hiring managers will like this enthusiasm.
  • If You Insist On Sitting – make sure that you sit in an office style chair with your back straight, chin up and your shoulders are horizontal. All this will help to project confidence into your voice and show your confidence and enthusiasm to the hiring manager.
  • Make Sure You Smile – If you’re grumpy while you’re on the telephone, it’s likely this will be projected into your voice. During your telephone interview, you need to give the impression that you’re a confident, fun-loving employee and not smiling will not help this.
  • Never Use a Speaker Phone – Nothing shows a lack of respect than the other party on a speaker phone. You cannot hear what’s being said even in the quietest of rooms. 
  • Pauses – Public speakers use pauses in their speech as a way of exaggerating a specific word or sentence. This can be really helpful during a telephone interview, as it gives the interviewer time to digest what you’ve just said and make reference to specific points that you want to focus on during your telephone interview.
  • Hands-Free – this is an excellent idea if you’re the type of person that likes to speak with their hands to get their point across. One point, make sure that your microphone is close to your mouth, otherwise, it’s a similar effect to when you telephone is on speaker.
  • Don’t Stand Outside – I once had a telephone interview with a candidate who stood outside on the side of the road. I could not understand half what he was saying and the 30-second gap in the middle when the police car went by did not help.​Get organised, standing on the side of the road says that either you do not care, or you were not organised enough to find somewhere quiet to take the phone call. Both are not things you need in an interview and do not put you in a good light.
  • Keep your CV in Front of You – Also make sure you have some paper and a pen.
  • Speak Slowly and Clearly – Even if you’re using a home telephone in a quiet room and your interviewer is in the same position, the telephone is never 100% perfect, so you need to make sure that you speak a little slower than usual and pronounce every individual word.
  • If you Cannot Hear The Recruiter – Interrupt and blame it on your phone…
  • Watch Out for Jokes and Sarcasm – Facial expressions help with both jokes and sarcasm, however, when you’re on the telephone, your interviewer will not be able to see your face. Maintain your professionalism and stay on target.
  • No Eating or Chewing Gum – Obvious I know, but it’s amazing how many times someone pops something into his or her mouth right at the wrong time.
  • Take A Drink With You – Nothing wrong with having a glass of water nearby that you can drink during the interview to stop your mouth becoming dry, however do watch out when you decide to take a sip.
  • Prepare Interview Questions Beforehand – There is no excuse not to have any questions to ask at the end of your interview. Asking questions is a vital part of any job interview and shows that you have thought about the interview and are taking the whole process seriously. Often in a standard interview when candidates do not ask a question, you could be forgiven, but in a telephone interview, you can easily have them written in front of you meaning there is no excuse.


Once you’re job interview has finished, remember to follow up correctly.  It’s important that you write a “thank you note” to interviewer, but if you’re told a decision will be made in two weeks, there’s no point following up after a couple of days.

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Nick Jones

My name Nick Jones, I am a professional Head-Hunter with over 20 years of experience working all over the world. I specialise in out-of-the-box job search strategies to get your CV directly to the hiring manager, thus skipping any ATS portals or recruiters who think they're important.

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