Telephone and Skype Interviews

If you have a fear of the telephone, preferring to text, email or meet up face to face.. an interview via telephone would not be your chosen method of selling yourself to potential employers! However, if you are interviewing for a job the other side of the country, or even in a different country, telephone or skype will almost certainly be the first point of contact in the interview process.

There are many challenges with telephone interviews, the main being that it’s tricky to gauge your interviewer’s reactions and emotions with no body language to respond to. Are you talking too much? Or not enough? Are they bored of your answers? Are you talking too quickly? Can they even hear what you’re saying?!

In person, a stifled yawn would speak 1000 words. Sitting leaning forward would show interest and attentiveness. Smiling and animated body language would show encouragement and engagement. But without any of this to go on, it really is just your voice and that of your interviewer!

And then there’s the fear of an uncomfortable silence or talking over each other, technical issues, losing sound, or at worse – losing connection altogether and having to repeat exactly what you’ve already said.

There are of course advantages of telephone interviews! The potential employer can’t see what you’re wearing or that you haven’t done your hair that morning! You can have notes in front of you, you can be in the comfort of your own home, in surroundings where you feel most comfortable.

Here are some tips for a successful telephone interview, ensuring you are fully prepared for any eventuality!

Be prepared!

It sounds blindingly obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people still haven’t pulled up a chair 2 minutes before the interview starts and are doing other things when the call comes in! Ensure you won’t be interrupted, try and be at a desk or in a quiet room rather than in your car where it may be difficult to write or look through notes. Be by your phone 15 minutes earlier that the call is scheduled for, in case they call you early, and ensure your mobile phone is fully charged. Saying ‘Sorry I just need to find a charger’ while rummaging around in the nearest draw 10 minutes into the call will make you seem disorganised and scatty! If you have some notes in front of you, make sure they’re organised so that the employer can’t hear the frantic rustling of paper during the call! Have a pen at the ready, and your CV, cover letter, application and the job description in front of you so that if the interviewer refers to it, you know exactly what they’re reading. And finally, have a glass of water at the ready in case of a dry mouth!

Slow and steady wins the race

It’s worth practicing speaking slowly down the phone, ask your friends and colleagues if you speak too fast on the telephone, or perhaps you don’t articulate your words well enough. Do you have the tendency to gabble when nervous? The interviewer won’t be able to see that you’re nervous, but they’ll hear it in your voice. Don’t be afraid to pause before answering in the same way that you would face to face. It needn’t be an awkward pause, it can be a measured one. Ask the interviewer to repeat the question if you need to, to ensure you’ve heard it correctly and to give you enough time to respond carefully and articulately.


It may sound ridiculous and cliché, but smiling really does shine through in your voice, it shows enthusiasm and character, a willingness and personality. Likewise, sitting up straight at a desk rather than lying on the bed in your pyjamas will put you in your professional mode, making you feel more motivated and determined.

Take notes and have notes ready

Have a few key notes in front of you, but not reams of paper! Answers to questions that are pertinent to the industry you will be working in, and more obvious questions such as strengths and weaknesses, examples of stressful or pressured times in your current role, or instances where you’ve made a real difference. Jot down some notes too! This is the real advantage of a telephone interview, so take advantage of it!

Remember you want to meet!

The aim of this first round interview is to get in to meet them face to face! Don’t shy away from expressing your interest in the role and communicate with them that you would like to come in to meet them in person. This is even more important if you have been nervous or quieter than you meant to be during the interview… remember your enthusiasm might not have been projected over the phone. Follow up the call with a brief email thanking your interviewer for their time and reiterating your interest!

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