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Effective communication in the workplace
Effective communication in the workplace

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5.1 Telephone interviews

A photograph of a woman sitting at her table on the phone.
Figure 7 A telephone interview.

Telephone interviews are commonplace in many recruitment processes and one of their primary aims is to assess candidates’ communication skills. Preparing for telephone interviews is much like the preparation you should do for face-to-face interviews. The difference is that the interviewer will not be able to observe your non-verbal communication, i.e. your facial expressions or body language.

To help with this, here are some key approaches you should consider adopting:

  • Carefully choose a good location for your interview, where you can minimise distractions or interruptions. This will support active listening.
  • Actively listen to the questions to ensure that you understand exactly what is expected of you; and wait for the interviewer to finish speaking before you start.
  • Think about your tone and try to vary it to engage the listener. Smiling can help to reduce your nerves and will come across in your voice.
  • When you can’t see the interviewer, you might be tempted to relax too much. Remember this is part of a formal process. It can help to dress as if you were attending a face-to-face interview and sit at a table or desk rather than in a comfortable chair. This will be reflected in the way you communicate.
  • Keep a drink of water close by.
  • Keep your CV handy in case you wish to refer to it, but do not rustle papers as this can be distracting for the interviewer.

Activity 4 Practising telephone interview skills

Timing: Allow 30 minutes for this activity

Ask a colleague, friend or family member to ask you the following questions over the phone:

  1. Can you tell me about a time you worked as part of a team?
  2. What are your strengths and weakness?
  3. How would your friends describe you?

Ask your friend to note how relaxed you seemed to be, the tone of your voice, and the quality of your answers. Also ask them to check whether you used the STAR technique in question 1. If possible, record the conversation as this will help you to further understand areas that you need to develop.

As well as telephone interviews, more employers are now using video interviews in their recruitment processes. You’ll find out more about that in Week 8.