Telephone Interview

So you've just heard back from that job you applied for, and it's good news: they were impressed with your CV, and you've made it through to the interview stage. However, this won't be a traditional, face-to-face job interview - as it turns out, this particular employer prefers to do things over the phone.

You might be pleased to hear this at first. On paper, a telephone interview sounds quite a bit easier than the alternative: no need to get a haircut, no need to iron your interview suit, no need to worry about how you're going to get there on time. All you have to do is pick up the phone and have a conversation. Simple, right?

But being interviewed over the phone rather than meeting your potential employer in the flesh does have its disadvantages. For example...

  • The employer won't be able to connect with you in quite the same way as if you were right there in front of them. Facial expressions and body language are important when you're trying to get someone to warm to you, but you can't rely on them during a phone interview - instead, you're forced to present yourself well and get your points across using speech alone.

  • Similarly, you won't be able to use the interviewer's physical cues to assess how well (or not) the interview is going. It can be difficult to give a relaxed and confident performance when you don't know whether the person you're talking to is smiling or frowning.

  • Telephone interviews tend to be shorter and less in-depth than traditional job interviews, which leaves you with a significantly smaller window of opportunity. Less time means fewer chances to talk yourself up and persuade the interviewer of your suitability for the role.

  • While it can be nice to conduct a job interview from the comfort of your own living room, the home environment can be distracting and detrimental to the professional image you're trying to project. Many a remote interview has been interrupted by a child or pet wandering into the room at an inopportune moment, and even if you're home alone, there's still a chance that the doorbell will ring, or that you'll get sidetracked by one of the many other things vying for your attention.

By now, you should be beginning to realise that telephone interviews aren't necessarily the walk in the park that they may resemble at first glance. There are a lot of obstacles to overcome, and we haven't even mentioned the fact that some people genuinely struggle to talk on the phone (even if they're perfectly outgoing and eloquent in person).

But don't despair - you can still ace your phone interview and land the job of your dreams without a hitch. To help you do so, here are five top telephone interview tips from the experts here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions:

1. Choose the right space.

Our phones go everywhere we go nowadays, which means that it's possible to take calls in the park, the car, the supermarket, and just about anywhere else you fancy. However, if at all possible, you should avoid conducting a job interview while on the go; instead, find a quiet, secluded room where you can be fairly certain you won't be interrupted. Try to choose somewhere with as few distractions and diversions as possible.

2. Focus on the task at hand.

Ideally, you shouldn't be doing anything else while you're being interviewed. You wouldn't doodle or surf the web or watch TV during a face-to-face job interview, so you should absolutely avoid those activities when on the phone. And don't eat anything during the call - it's impolite, and the person on the other end might have a hard time understanding you with your mouth full.

3. Make notes beforehand.

It never hurts to prepare. Keep your CV handy throughout the call (along with your cover letter, the company's details, and anything else that might prove useful) so that you can quickly refer to key information as necessary. Before the interview, you may also wish to draft answers to common questions so that you won't 'um' and 'ah' too much when you're in the hot seat. If you don't think it will be too much of a distraction, it might even be worth keeping a pen and some paper handy during the call itself so that you can make notes on the fly.

4. Don't speak too quickly.

During any sort of interview, it's easy to let your nerves get the better of you and speak too quickly to be understood. Before responding to each question, take a breath and remind yourself to answer slowly, steadily, and clearly. You'll come off a lot better for it, and the interviewer won't have to ask you to repeat yourself.

5. Be concise.

Just as it's important to try not to talk too fast, it's also important not to talk too much. Waffling on needlessly won't endear you to your potential employer - it's never fun to sit through a long, rambling answer, and it's even worse when you're on the phone and the physical cues we discussed earlier aren't present to make the monologue more engaging. If you really want to impress, answer each question in as few words as possible (while still making your point clear each time).

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You probably don’t need our science recruitment experts here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions to tell you that the job market can be an extremely competitive one.

A survey last year, and reported by Business Insider, pretty much confirmed what so many of those seeking the most attractive and lucrative science jobs already knew, in reporting that UK job seekers have to apply for 27 positions on average just to land one interview.

So, if you are fortunate enough to be invited to interview, here are six of the best ways to maximise your chances of success.

1.       Prepare, prepare, prepare

Yes, you might have heard this tip often, but it can’t be emphasised often enough: good, thorough preparation for an interview is very much the bedrock for success.

As a guideline, the tendency for most candidates is to spend just a few hours preparing for their interview, so we would advise you to spend much more time than that. After all, you need to be spellbindingly good to truly impress the recruiter, not just adequate or even inadequate.

2.       Get accustomed to 20th-century technology

There are so many examples of cutting-edge (and maybe slightly less than cutting-edge) technology in today’s recruitment landscape that aren’t exactly going to just go away.

Increasing numbers of companies, for instance, now like to conduct video interviews before meeting with you in person.

So, you should take the time to ensure you are comfortable with whatever technology is used and don’t make any amateurish mistakes that will make a bad impression – such as positioning yourself at an unflattering angle to the camera or neglecting to ensure the lighting and sound are top-notch.  

3.       Make sure you have a clear value proposition

Remember that the interview is ultimately about selling yourself to the recruiter or employer, so you will need to – at the very least – have an extremely clear value proposition to make them truly interested in you.  

To do that, you will need to communicate not only what it is you do, but also who you serve, or who your customers or clients are.

You should also be able to convey what value those customers or clients perceive in your services and what you can offer that isn’t available to those customers or clients anywhere else.  

4.       Ask strategic questions

While it’s obviously crucial to provide convincing answers to the questions you are asked, it’s equally important to have interesting questions of your own to ask.

A good rule of thumb is to ask strategic questions designed to bring you closer to being presented with a job offer, rather than basic tactical questions – such as how to do certain things – that can plant doubt in the mind of the interviewer.

If you’re struggling for ideas of decent questions to ask, this article from The Guardian on the best 10 questions to ask in job interviews may give you some timely inspiration.

5.       Pay attention to your image

Your interviewer is a human being, and like any human being, they tend to remember images rather more easily than words or text. Think back to the last movie you watched – is it the images that you recall most from it, or the actors’ lines?

It’s therefore important to make sure you present the most positive image to the interviewer as soon as you arrive. Are you wearing appropriate clothing? Is your posture good? Are you smiling, or gloomy?

6.        Be oriented towards the future, not the past

It’s all too easy during a job interview to become buried in your past achievements and qualifications. When it comes down to it, what are you going to do for this employer in the coming weeks and months after they take you on?

The future is almost certainly what the recruiter or employer will be mostly thinking about, so it’s what you should be mostly thinking about as a candidate as well.

Would you like to benefit from more advice and guidance like this in your quest for a rewarding new science job? If so, don’t hesitate to familiarise yourself with the HRS Candidate Commitment before getting in touch with our team to learn more about what we have to offer. 

January has been a busy month. Your New Year’s Resolution - to "get that dream job". You've been busy sending off CVs and now the hard work is paying off, interview offers are starting to come in. Congratulations on making it through to this stage. 

You've researched the company’s background, looked over the job description and rehearsed your answers to questions you think you are likely to be asked. Great! This will certainly help you in the interview. But did you know? The language you use in your responses may well be the deciding factor on whether or not you are successful.


You arrive for your interview - are you ready?

Dressed in your smartest suit, you arrive nice and early. You tell the receptionist you’re here for an interview. You’re feeling confident and proud of yourself. There’s not doubt about, it you've worked hard to get to this stage, but it’s not over yet. Just one more hurdle to overcome, the actual interview. This is probably the most daunting part of the whole recruitment process. So, whilst you’re sitting in reception waiting to be called, why not use the time to fill your head with some last minute positive thinking. 

 

 

Do you know WHAT to say and HOW to say it?

From the informal to the formal there are many types of interviews, but one that you are likely to come up against is the competency-based interview. Ever heard that "Tell me about a time when…" question? It probably sounds like a simple question but during an interview it’s so easy to forget that answer you've been trying to memorising for the last few days. Don’t worry, we've all been there. When this happens we end up missing out key details and usually give a really unstructured answer.

Here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions we always encourage our candidates to use techniques like ‘STAR’. This model will really help you to formulate a structured response, which will in turn ensure you give a well thought out answer.

 

 

Here are some examples of how can you use this model to ensure your responses are structured and positive.

 

Talk about challenges

Interviewer: ‘tell me about a time when you failed at a task”

Avoid using phrases like “I’ve never failed at anything before” or “I never make mistakes”. We've all faced challenges both professionally and personally. These responses simply show that you are lying. Use this as an opportunity to demonstrate that you are not only capable of dealing with difficult situations but you've actually learnt from the experience.

Candidate: “When things didn’t quite go to plan, I made sure I…so next time…”

 

Talk about weaknesses

Interviewer: ‘Do you have any weaknesses?”

It’s a fact; we can’t be good at everything so there will something you’re not good at doing. When you’re asked this question, don’t focus on how bad you are – turn a negative into a positive

Candidate: “I would like to learn…” or “I…to overcome this challenge in the past" or “I asked a colleague to help me.”

 

Leave a positive lasting impression

When you walk into the room make sure you introduce yourself and shake hands with the interviewer. When you leave, thank the interviewer for inviting you for an interview. End on a positive note, why not mentioning something you came across during your research? Simple things like this will ensure the interviewer has a positive impression of you.

Candidate: “I noticed that you have a company football team” or "it was great to meet the team, I think I would fit in well."

Bottom line, when it comes to interviews knowing what to say and how to say it is critical. Using the right language will ensure you deliver a lasting impression and a positive experience. Remember as I always our MD Ricky Martin always says #thinkpositivebepositive. Good luck!

For more interview advice and questions please visit our website.

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