The telephone interview in the application process
The first contact with the potential new employer is not always a personal interview on site. More and more often, a telephone interview is conducted to gain an initial impression of the candidate. This is how a decision is made about whether an interview in person is worthwhile, for both parties. Therefore it is important to be well prepared on the phone as well.
Preparation for a telephone interview
- Take your time. A telephone interview will usually take between 30 and 60 minutes depending on intensity. Agree a date with your contact person for this and build in a time buffer before and after the interview. That will ensure that you are reachable at the agreed time and do not get nervous if it happens to take longer than planned.
- Prepare and research the company again intensively on the website, and find out about the role being advertised. Come up with some theories about why the company is hiring (e.g. which business areas is the company apparently trying to strengthen? etc.).
- Look for a quiet place where you will not be disturbed and switch other telephones off.
- Have the relevant documents to hand - your CV, information about the company, keywords for suitable answers to potential questions by the interviewer, notes on your own questions that you would like to or should ask at the end of the interview.
- Prepare a glass of water in case you get a dry mouth.
- Sitting upright helps to keep breathing steady and to allow your voice to resonate.
- A smile can be heard in your voice, even though your interview can't see you.
Conducting a successful telephone conversation
It's time: the company, or epunkt, calls you on the phone. Usually the interviewer will introduce themselves briefly to you and will start with a bit of small talk so that you (and in fact they) relax a bit before the interview questions start. Be prepared to answer questions on the individual points of your CV, your motivation (choice of university subject, current motivations for change, etc.).
Additionally you should also be able to answer questions about your salary expectations and your availability. Prepare the information on this in advance.
Possible question in a telephone interview
Questions arising from the CV (tip: gaps in employment history are not a problem, if they can be explained)
- Why did you choose your degree course / your training?
- Why did you apply for this position?
- What do you find interesting about this company?
- What sets you apart from other candidates, with regard to the role?
- Where do you still have a need for improvement and how do you plan to remedy this?
- What are your salary expectations?
- When is the earliest you can start?
What you should not ask in the telephone interview
- "So how did I do?"
- "What are my chances of getting this job?"
Closing the conversation
If "all" questions have been resolved, your interviewer will thank you and finally explain the next steps. If your interviewer does not mention it themselves, you can ask for information on the timeline at this point. ("By when might I expect to hear back?", "Should I get in touch with you, or will you call me?").
Conclude the interview in a friendly and professional manner. Thank them for the conversation, which was hopefully pleasant and interesting, and for the time dedicated to it (by both parties).
Picture credit: Unsplas