Phone interviews are used by employers to screen potential new hires. This allows companies to sort through a larger number of candidates without committing to the expense and time required for face-to-face interviews.
Phone interviews are generally arranged so that you are expecting the call. Sometimes for screening interviews, you may be contacted without warning. If you are unable to converse professionally, for example, you're on a noisy tram, it is best to explain and arrange another time.
As with face-to-face interviews you need to do your research and preparation. Refer to Interview Preparation.
In case you miss a call from the employer, personalise your voicemail message and keep it professional.
Choose a quiet place free from background noise and other distractions. You want to be able to concentrate and answer each question confidently. Never have a phone interview while driving or in a public place.
Using a landline for your phone interview is ideal but not a requirement. This lowers the risk of being distracted by incoming emails, text messages or other notifications. If you are using your mobile phone make sure it is fully charged and that you take the call in a place where your reception is at its best.
Put on your game face
Get dressed up for your phone interview, just like you would for an in-person interview. You're more likely to feel and sound professional if you look the part.
You have no body language with which to reinforce your personality; it's all about the voice. You need to compensate for this by speaking more clearly and slowly, and using more intonation (variations of tone, volume and pace). Be clear, confidant and enthusiastic.
And remember to smile! You can't sound bored or uninterested if you have a smile on your face.
Take advantage of the invisibility factor
Phone interviews are a lot like open-book tests: you can have all the information you need to know in front of you. Have some company information, the position's job description and your resume in front of you for quick and easy access.
Phone interviews are shorter than in-person interviews, which means you have less time to make a good impression. So avoid long-winded answers that could make you lose your audience.
Stay focused, take notes during the call and listen carefully so that your responses are on point.
Practice, practice, practice! It's important to practice your answers out loud - with your friends, family, referees and mentors.
You can also practice and record yourself on Interview Stream, the University's online video interview platform.