What's the Best Advice You've Had for Preparing for Telephone Interviews?

What’s the best advice you’ve ever had while preparing for telephone interviews?

Beyond the obvious, ensure you have a good phone signal :stuck_out_tongue:

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Don’t know about advice, but the best story I have about a phone interview is about the time when I was woken on the morning of the interview by what I thought was a totally outrageous 05:45 marketing cold call but which turned out - due to a bedside clock malfunction - to be the actual 09:45 interview!

I resigned myself to writing that application off and did as best I could under the circumstances. Guess what? I got an invitation to a face-to-face interview and got the job!

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We did a podcast episode on this exact topic, some useful tips here: https://testingpeers.com/?p=369

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I don’t think I’ve ever had advice for phone interviews, but as someone who conducts them there’s a few bits I’d like to give:

  • Don’t be unduly deferential. We are looking for a colleague, not a slave. It’s fine to want to know more about the role to decide if it works for us both. It’s a little exhausting talking to someone who treats you like you’re already their boss, it seems insincere and I’m less likely to hire someone when I think I’m only seeing a front.

  • If you haven’t heard the question, because of signal, or my voice, or because you’re nervous, the absolute worst thing you could possibly do is try and answer it anyway.

  • Don’t wait to ask questions. I hire testers. I want questions and I don’t want to have to invite them.

  • Speak clearly. Slow down. Be nervous, if you are. Be confident, if you are. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people, I can see through that. Just make sure you know what I’m saying and I know what you’re saying. Communication is a key factor in our sector and a major contributor to your chances of proceeding to a job.

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There’s already some really good advice in this thread.

I think the only one I would have for preparing for a telephone interview is to try and understand the scope and context of the call, because some of them are just a quick chat, screener-style and others are more in depth.

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Be yourself, be honest and be on time.

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Having been on both sides of the phone, some tips to add to the already great advice in this thread:

  • Have a goal about what you want to get out of the call, and then work towards it. Is it to try and get to a face to face interview no matter what because this is your dream job? or is it to evaluate the job, are you unsure if it is right for you?
  • Try and understand the goal of your interviewer, are they checking you for technical or team fit? Are they simply checking you know enough about your CV that it’s worth talking to you in more depth?
  • Make sure you have a fair understanding of the job description and remind yourself of your CV and be ready to talk about your current role in terms of responsibilities, day to day activities, achievements and challenges.
  • Confirm the outcome of the call and what you understand the next actions are on both sides, if this isn’t clear then ask. Make sure you know who your contact is if you want to follow up, and when you can expect to hear back.

Hope that helps, good luck all!

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Definitely an important thread, and some amazing advice so far. Below is a short list of considerations from my experience of being an interviewer and interviewee.

  1. Give the interview the attention it deserves - even if it’s a “quick chat” make sure you know what the role is and prepare accordingly. I personally live by “there’s no such thing as a quick/informal chat”
  2. If you have a hands-free set use it so you can still be expressive - this does come across over the phone
  3. Want the role, whatever it is - if you aren’t interviewing like you want the role this may be noticed by the interviewer
  4. Have a notepad and pen ready - any notes you take may be useful in preparation for the next round and beyond
  5. Sit up straight, ideally looking at something in front of you - this opens your chest and throat so you can enunciate your words clearly
  6. Breathe before you answer a question - that microsecond will enable you to form clearer answers to any questions and come across as more thoughtful and genuine
  7. Be ready before the call - it’s never ideal to miss a call and have to wait for a call-back. If you are at work, book a meeting in your diary which includes lead time.
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