How to make an impression in a telephone interview

The telephone interview: how to make an impression from a distance

If the telephone rings after an application and the company asks you for a phone or Skype interview, it’s your chance to score some points. Here’s how to prepare for typical phone interview questions.

The telephone interview – am I already in?

If your desired company asks you to do a telephone or Skype interview, that’s a good sign. You’re in the narrower selection. The telephone interview serves to clear up open questions about your application. So prepare for typical phone interview questions well and make sure you are in a phone-friendly atmosphere.

The right time for a telephone interview

Even if you are happy about getting the call from the company, you shouldn't let yourself be thrown off guard. You don’t have to answer the tricky telephone interview questions straight away, but can ask them to call you back. Preferably not the same day, so that you have time to prepare for the telephone interview. Go through your application documents once again – especially if there are gaps in your CV. Take some time to examine your desired company properly again. Also, write down questions about the job and the company you can ask during the telephone interview.

Make sure that you will not be disturbed during the telephone interview. Conversations while driving a car or with loud background noises in the park are not appropriate. Find a quiet room at home and ask your family members or flatmates not to disturb you. It's best to put your application documents and research material on the company on the desk in front of you so you have all the information to hand.

If you know the name of the person you are talking to, you can try to find out more about them on the internet via networks like Xing or LinkedIn. Any information you find will be helpful in the telephone interview.

Typical telephone interview questions

Even if you think that the person on the phone can't see you during the telephone interview – sit up straight. It can be heard in your voice. The same applies to what you wear: it often influences how you behave. If that applies to you, then you should wear the same clothes to the telephone interview that you would wear to a normal interview.

Typical phone interview questions are about gaps in your CV. Prepare convincing and honest arguments for these questions. Questions about why you are changing jobs or little tests on how well you speak foreign languages also often come up. You should also think about a little presentation of yourself and arguments for why you want to move to this specific company.

Special case: Skype interview

A special form of the telephone interview is growing more and more popular: the Skype interview. The advantage for applicants and companies is that you don’t just have a conversation, but also get a visual impression – but save an expensive journey. That’s why Skype interviews are usually used when you apply for a job abroad or in companies far away from where you currently live.

On the whole, the same rules that apply to a telephone interview apply to a Skype interview. However, in this case you must make sure you present yourself in terms of appearance accordingly: your outfit and hairstyle should fit the company and the background should also seem serious. You’re better off removing disturbing decorations beforehand.

Before the Skype interview, you absolutely must ensure that your computer and internet connection are working. It’s best to do a test with a friend. They can give you feedback on the sound and video quality and tell you how you look on screen. At the start of the actual Skype interview, you should agree with the other person who should call back if the connection is lost.  Avoid frequent and quick movements in a Skype interview. This usually causes a blurry or distorted picture with most internet connections.
If you follow the tips above, there will be nothing stopping you from getting invited to a personal interview.