Gamma Talent
Third Sector Recruitment in the Midlands


Observations and ramblings. And likely the odd rant.

So you've got a telephone interview to prepare for? Here are some hints and tips

I’ve spoken to some candidates this week to prep them for the first round of interviews – and it’s a telephone interview.  The role is a senior one and interestingly, half of the candidates hadn’t ever had one before. And having a think about it, I hadn’t had a proper telephone interview for any of my roles before setting up GT.

I’ve noticed they are becoming quite popular this past year, especially amongst roles where there is strong competition. I am finding clients like them because you can use them for a short and sweet, good ‘first impressions’ test. And although considered very much part of the formal interviewing process, they are tending to be quite informal and less competency based. They tend to be an opportunity for a general overview, seeing how good the candidate’s chat is and their interest in the organisation.

I rate them too because I find them good for tackling unconscious bias. Developing diversity in the charitable sector is desperately needed (the Institute of Fundraising has recently set up a expert panel about this – for more info view here) and diverse workforces are proven in all sectors to be more profitable (… a blog topic for another day, I’ll come back to it as its so important for sustainability of the sector). But time and time again, recruiting managers recruit in their own mould. So first impressions on the telephone can really close down any judgments we unconsciously make.

But back to the hints and tips if you’re about to have a telephone interview:

1.     Keep a glass of water handy. When you’re nervous, tickles in your throat or a cough starting up when you need to talk is bound to happen, just because you don’t want it too. Its also a useful tool to keep the nerves controlled, having something physically to do, i.e. take a sip helps give the mind a rest for a few seconds

2.     Feel smart to be smart. Wear something that makes you feel confident, that you feel good wearing. But I don’t mean your posh pj’s if you’re at home! You want to convey a professional image, whilst feeling invigorated.

3.     Prepare. Just as you would for a face-to-face interview, make sure you have practiced your answers and done your homework on the organisation. Ok, I know I started this blog by saying they tend to be quite informal, but that doesn’t mean you should come across as blasé or ill-prepared

4.     Location, location, location. As this interview is all pre-planned, get yourself sorted. Know where you get decent reception at home or book a private room if you’re out and about. Coffee shops can be noisy and distracting.

5.     Strong verbal first impression. Make sure you answer the phone to the interviewer, preferably by saying, “Hello, [insert name] speaking. Is this [insert interviewers name]? It just looks pretty naff if you don’t show confidence at this early stage as the interview is pre-planned. Also, if you’re at home and anyone else is in, don’t let them pick the land line up!

6.     Take notes. Not only will it be helpful to remind yourself what you said, if you get through to the next round you’ll have an idea of what to build your answers on and what the organisation was interested to know

7.     Don't be tempted to google. This will just be obvious and make you look really rubbish. Just like you would in a face to face interview, if you don’t know the answer, ask them to repeat the question, take a moment or two to think through what you’d say, or say you’re not sure. Its okay to say you’re not sure of the answer as that takes guts. Be brave. Stay calm!

8.     Listen and don’t interrupt or talk over the interviewer. This could be tricky because you can’t look them in the eye. But be careful not to say when they are talking, “yes, yes…….. hmmmm….” You’re presumably trying to give the impression you’re listening because you can’t look them in the eye, but sound is so sensitive here. Remember, they are concentrating hard too. Give them space to have their own thoughts

9.     Smile. This will project a positive image to the interviewer and will change the tone of your voice. It can also be helpful to stand during the interview, since this typically gives your voice more energy and enthusiasm

If you’ve any tips you’d like to share, please tweet me @GammaTalent


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