Learning what to expect in a telephone interview can help you to prepare and feel reassured. Check out our top tips.

What to expect in a Telephone Interview

In the current climate, more and more companies are choosing telephone interviews as their preferred option to screen job applicants. It’s a safe, quick and easy way to get a first impression on whether you have what it takes to do the job. So how do you prepare for a phone interview and what format should you expect in a telephone interview? Here’s our top tips when it comes to acing an interview on the phone…

Is it an interview?

The first time you’re contacted by an employer, it’s unlikely to be a formal telephone interview. They’ll probably just be calling to confirm receipt of your application and find out if you’re definitely interested. If it’s not convenient to talk or you can’t remember much about the job or the company, politely take down their details and ask if you can call them back.

This gives you chance to have a quick look on their website and refresh your memory on the job you applied for. When you do call back, you’ll come across as knowledgeable and enthusiastic to progress your application.

Treat it like a normal interview

Once a formal telephone interview has been scheduled, be sure to treat it like any other interview. Sounds obvious, right? But many job-seekers don’t prepare as fully for telephone interviews as they would for one in person. 

Start by finding out as much as you can about the company. Take a look on their website, get to know what products or services they offer, read their online reviews or latest press releases, and check out their social media pages. Try to find out something interesting about them, such as award wins or good news stories, or information about their future plans to grow or expand.

Create the right environment

Make sure you’re somewhere quiet when you answer the call where you won’t be distracted or disturbed. Have a glass of water handy and a pen and paper. Some people find it helps to be in front of their computer or sit at a desk or table like you would in a traditional interview. Some even like to dress in interview attire, so they feel more professional and business-like.

If you can, use a landline so you don’t have any reception issues and remember to switch off your mobile phone. It doesn’t matter whether you sit or stand as long as you feel comfortable, but avoid pacing about the house too much or you could end up out of breath or losing any notes you’ve made.

Keep your CV handy

A first stage telephone interview will likely only touch on a few introductory questions about why you’re interested in the job and what you have to offer. Be prepared to talk about any skills or experience you included on your CV and highlight why it’s relevant to this job. The person you’re talking to will likely have a copy in front of them so it gives you common ground to talk through.

Remember if there’s any gaps in your CV or shorter periods of employment, they’re likely to ask about them. Be prepared to answer any questions they could ask and put a positive spin on any reasons for leaving previous employers or taking time out of the workplace.


Without the visual clues you’d expect in a face-to-face interview scenario, you have to rely on great listening skills to build rapport and make sure you’re responding at the right times in the right way. If you both end up talking at once, make sure you stop and take time to listen to show you’re approachable and keen to learn.

Equally, take a moment to pause once a question is asked to make sure you’ve understood and thought about your response. If you’re not sure what they mean, ask them to repeat or rephrase the question, or to give you an example of what they’re expecting.

Ask Questions

Finally, make sure you’ve thought about some good questions to ask at the end of the interview. It’s a really good opportunity to find out more about the job you’ve applied for, the company itself and any opportunities for training or career development. It also shows the interviewer you’re prepared and motivated and might make them more likely to invite you to the second stage.

Hopefully, knowing what to expect in a telephone interview will make you feel reassured and help you to get prepared. But remember, not everyone finds interviews easy, and it’s common to feel anxious before the call. Our top tips for mastering interview nerves may help!

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