The path to success in phone interviews
Covid-19 has reduced the number of face-to-face interviews. This means organisations need to use phone or video interviews to assess jobseekers. While some are continuing to use phone interviews as a method of filtering applicants, others requiring quick turnarounds are using easy-to-arrange phone interviews as the only stage in the process.Phone interviews present different experience to face-to-face and video interviews. It might seem like a relief not to have an interviewer scrutinising your appearance and body language, but it also means it can be harder for you to make a good impression on them.Below are some tips to ensuring you give the best phone interview you possibly can:Prepare like it is a face-to-face interviewRegardless of whether your interviewer is using this as a single interview or as a first interview to shortlist candidates, you should still prepare as though this is a face-to-face meeting.Find out as much as you can about the organisation who you would be working for. Research your interviewer and what they do at the company. List your key achievements and areas which demonstrate your skills.Make sure that you write down any questions you want to ask. A phone interview is an ideal time to find out more about the role you have applied for, company culture and personal development opportunities.Have your preparation to handWhen preparing for a face-to-face interview, it is important to memorise information, as consistently referring to pieces of paper does not create a flowing conversation and can count against you.In a phone interview, an interviewer cannot see you referring to your notes, so you can do this much more often than in a face-to-face setting.As part of your preparation, make a note of any important figures you can quote back to your interviewer, such as your sales figures, number of customers you have helped and other areas where you have gone above and beyond targets.Have your CV and anything else you used in your application to hand, such as a cover letter, to ensure that you can refer to what you have listed on them; your interviewer will be doing the same.However, do not fall into the trap of simply reading off a piece of paper, as this will be apparent to your interviewer. Instead, drop any information in naturally, ensuring that conversation continues to flow freely.Communicate clearly and conciselyIt is more difficult to have a naturally flowing conversation over the phone than face to face. There are actions you can take to help the conversation progress naturally.The most important element is listening hard to your interviewer. Take on board all elements of their questions, making a note of anything that seems particularly important, in case they refer back to it later.Always leave a pause when an interviewer stops speaking, just to make sure that you are not interrupting them. This pause will also give you some time to frame your answer in your mind.When answering questions, put on your best ‘telephone voice’ and speak with enthusiasm and energy. Enunciate as much as you can, not forgetting to breathe. Having a glass of water to hand will also help you.Just because there is no visual element, it does not mean you have to speak as much as possible. Well-formed, concise answers will make a far better impression than you rambling to make the same point over five minutes that you could have made in 30 seconds.Finally, before the interview begins, make sure you can take the call in a quiet area where you will not be interrupted.By following these steps, and applying face-to-face interview practice, you will make a great impression on your potential employer.If you are looking for a job, permanent or temporary, across one of our 20 specialisms, contact your local Reed office.
How to ace your video interview
Use the following video interviewing tips to help you secure your next role.There are two types of video interviewLive interviews are what you would expect – a video call with the interviewer which is very similar to a face-to-face interview, but slightly different. Some may feel more relaxed knowing that they are speaking face-to-face with a person, even if it’s only through a screen.Pre-recorded interviews provide you with questions you must answer by recording yourself. These interviews are usually recorded with specialist software, such as Shine, and you will have a certain number of attempts to answer each question.Check your techTest your microphone, camera and internet connection before you start, and make sure your device is compatible with the software your interviewer is using. Making a test call will give you piece of mind that everything is set up correctly.In case of any unexpected audio issues, or your connection drops, ensure you have the interviewer’s contact number so that you can continue your interview over the phone. Don’t forget to fully charge your device or have it plugged in to avoid any potential disruption from a low battery.Just as you would in a face-to-face interview, you must also check that your phone is on silent and any notifications are off.FramingTo frame yourself well, position yourself in the centre of the screen, with the camera at eye-level, an arm’s length away. If you give the illusion of eye-contact by looking at the camera, you will seem more engaging to the interviewer. The interviewer will have a better impression of you, and will be more engaged in your answers.It is most important to choose a location where you won’t be disturbed and are least likely to pick up noise from your surroundings. Choose a space which is not too dark or too bright and remove anything from behind you that you wouldn’t want your employer to see, such as dirty clothes.Body language and appearanceBe as professional as possible, both in how you dress and in your body language – remember that this is your potential employer. Even if the interviewer can’t see all of you, dressing well will put you in the right mindset for a job interview and you will make a much better impression.Other than your facial expression and hand gestures, your non-verbal communication is limited, so it will be more difficult for the interviewer to pick up positive body language. Ensure you don’t fidget too much, avoid covering your mouth, and make sure to smile.Our YouTube channel has a fantastic series of interviewing advice videos detailing the dos and don’ts for candidates.If you’re looking for a new career opportunity, contact your local office via email or over the phone.
Getting the best from your interview
Interviews give your potential employer the chance to see you – in the flesh, or remotely over a video call – to learn about your likes and dislikes, capabilities, and get an overall feel for whether you will fit in with the organisation.However, getting the best from the interview doesn't just mean showing your best self to get the job - it also means using the opportunity to assess the environment you will be working in, those you will be working with and for, and making it clear in your mind whether the job and organisation are right for you.First interview, second interview, face-to-face interview, telephone interview, video interview: whatever the type of interview they all have one thing in common – you have the opportunity to shine."To be a great champion, you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are."Muhammad AliWhat's inside the guide?You may be the most knowledgeable professional for the job, but without performing well at an interview you won’t stand a chance of securing your next role.The guide takes you through the following:Getting to grips with the organisation you could be working forDress codeDifferent types of interviewTackling common first interview questionsThe big daySecond interviewsPreparing for a presentation taskOn-the-day tasksBy downloading this guide, you will learn the tips and tricks on the interview process which will help you to make the most of the short time you have to sell yourself.
Ask James Reed: how to ace the job interview
Questions employers ask at interview can range from the standard ‘What are your weaknesses?’ to out-of-the-box questions like ‘How many traffic lights are there in London?’ – James Reed can help you decipher what they are really asking.Find out how to pass your next interview with flying colours with this free webinar, in which James shared insight from his 25 years in recruitment and answered your burning questions.This webinar was the second instalment of a two-part series based on two of his books:- The 7 Second CV: How to Land the Interview- Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear AgainIn case you missed the first one on CV-writing tips, you can watch it back here.Speaker profile: James Reed, CEO and Chairman, ReedJames Reed has worked in recruitment and careers for more than 25 years. Reed receives forty million job applications a year and has delivered over one hundred programmes to help more than 200,000 people who had been long-term unemployed back into work.The Reed Group currently employs more than 3,800 people across the globe helping to improve lives through work. James Reed was voted Top CEO by employee-ratings platform Glassdoor in both 2018 and 2019, and Reed won a coveted Best Places to Work Award from the same company in 2019 and 2020. This means it is the top-ranked recruiter on the list of all organisations voted as excellent workplaces by employees on Glassdoor.
How to prepare for an interview presentation
Particularly for executive level positions, a presentation stage can be an integral part of the short-listing process.Many employers opt for a presentation interview as it gives a better overview of your general aptitude when compared to (or combined with) a traditional question and answer interview. The presentation is your opportunity to showcase your knowledge, experience and communication skills as well as your general organisation and diligence.Here are our tips on how you can ensure you deliver the best interview presentation possible.Preparing your presentation for an interviewKeep each slide short and significant, aiming for no more than 10 slides. This ensures the information you deliver is memorable and will help you to stand out from other intervieweesUse a range of formats to help illustrate your points. Include graphs, statistics, diagrams, video clips, and images to help break up large volumes of text and maintain the attention of the interviewersInclude quotes from industry leaders and/or research pieces. This helps give your points authority and demonstrate your commercial awarenessIncorporate company colours or fonts in the design of your presentation. This will show you’ve done your research and highlight your brand awarenessCheck spelling and grammar thoroughly – small mistakes can really undermine the content of your presentationPresenting tipsPresent confidently and enthusiastically. Remember to speak clearly, make eye contact and use open body languagePractice, practice, practice. Ensure you are well rehearsed so that you are familiar with the structure and are able to deliver your presentation smoothlyArrive early to give yourself time to set up the presentation and settle any nervesGet comfortable with PowerPoint and presentation equipment. Make sure you know how to work the projector, visual screens or remote control before you begin to avoid any awkward stumbles or pausesHave access to multiple sources of your presentation. Email the file to yourself and the recruiter, bring a copy on a USB stick and bring printed handouts. This way you are covered if anything goes wrong with the file you’re intending to useStay within the allocated time. If you have not been given a guidance on length, aim for the 10 minute mark. Time your presentation when you are practising to make sure it will fit within your allowed time slot. If you need to reduce the content of your presentation, cut out the least relevant or weakest pointsBe prepared to adapt. You may have practiced your presentation in a certain way, but the interviewer might not respond accordingly. Be prepared to be stopped for questions or further discussion unexpectedly10 minute interview presentation templateBelow is an example for the structure of your interview presentation. Use this as a baseline and adapt or reorder where appropriate based on the task you have been set by the interviewer.Slide 1:Introduction – Reiterate the objectives you have been set and lay out the structure of your presentation so that the interviewers know what to expectSlide 2:About you – Detail your professional experience, skills and working styleSlide 3:Company history – Give a brief summary of the company history, any milestones or awardsSlides 4-7:Answering the brief – Give your responses to questions you’ve been asked to answer, the benefits and limitations of your suggestionsSlide 8:Question and answers – Include a slide titled ‘questions and answers’ as a cue to pause for interactionSlide 9:Conclusion – Sum up the key points you have made, reach a decision and explain your reasoningSlide 10:Personal achievements – End the interview on a high with a brief slide on achievements that show you will succeed in the roleTaking these steps should help you to succeed in your presentation interview.
Top questions to ask candidates on a telephone interview
They may not be everyone's cup of tea, but telephone interviews have a lot of advantages. They are fast, easy to arrange and arm you with just the right level of information to begin whittling down your applicants.Of course phone interviews present challenges too. Mostly arising from the fact that you can't see the person you are talking to. Here's a primer on the kind of questions you should ask to get the best out of your phone interviews.Keep things simple...It's important not to get carried away with telephone interviews. Remember they are intended as a screening measure to decide who to invite for a face-face interview. You don't need your candidate's entire life story. Simple questions are the best policy.Candidates can often be nervous, which can make for an uncomfortable conversation where you fail to get the insight you need on your candidate. Put interviewees at ease by introducing yourself, explaining how long the interview will last and telling them how it will be structured.What type of questions should you ask?Remember to keep things simple. The lack of visual interaction means that phone interviews are not suited to complex questions that require lengthy answers. Of course, you want your candidates to be thorough with their answers - but don't attempt to ask anything too brow-furrowing.Questions should be geared to find out more about the applicant - expanding on the information supplied on a CV and cover letter and assessing whether their professional experience is suited to the role. Here are our tips for the best phone interview questions to ask candidates.1. What made you apply for this position?Does your candidate sound like they want the job? Look for a passionate answer. You want a candidate who really cares about getting hired by you, rather than someone who sounds indifferent and apathetic. Genuine enthusiasm shows that your candidate believes they have what it takes to succeed in the role.2. Screening questionsScreening questions allow you to gauge whether an applicant has the essential minimum experience or skills required for the role - such as expertise with a certain piece of software or a key qualification. Example screening questions might be:Are you willing to travel?Do you have a clear driving license?Do you have PRINCE2 certification?Screening questions will always be determined by the type of role you are recruiting for - and should be led by the job description. They are a simple way to make sure no unsuitable applicants make it through to an in-person interview and can be as simple as yes/no questions.3. What experience do you have that will help you succeed in this role?Look for evidence that the applicant has studied the job description. They should provide concrete examples that prove they have the experience required. Ideally their answers will also show how they have applied their knowledge/experience to provide tangible, measurable results.4. Why are you leaving your current job/Why did you leave your previous job?If your candidate launches a full scale diatribe about how much they dislike their current employer, it should probably set your alarm bells ringing. Seek out candidates who are hungry for a fresh challenge or who have been waiting for an opening in this particular field or - even better - with this organisation.5. What challenges are you looking for in a post?6. What is important to you from a job?7. How would you describe your approach to work?This set of questions is great for finding out more about the professional mindset of your applicant. How ambitious are they? Are they looking for professional development? What's their self-discipline like? Listen carefully to how they structure their answers and look for similarities with the person specification document.8. What motivates you?9. What type of work environment do you perform best in?These questions allow you to assess how well the candidate will fit with your organisation's environment. Do they need a lot of assistance or are they self-starters? Do they prefer working alone or are they great collaborators? Sometimes individuals simply aren't suited to certain working environments, no matter how talented they are.10. What are your hobbies outside of work?It can be easy to forget that your candidate is a person first and a professional second. Look for signs that the person on the end of the line will click with other members of the team.11. Do you have any questions?It's important to field any queries your candidate may have, whether about the job or the recruitment process. Once you have answered any questions, close the interview by thanking the candidate for their time and giving them your contact details - they will appreciate being able to get in touch should they think of any further questions.Getting the information you need from telephone interviews is about keeping things simple and looking for evidence that your candidates have the essentials required for the role. Come the face-to-face interviews you will have saved a lot of time by filtering out unsuitable applicants, meaning less time asking basic questions and more time deep-diving into the people behind the CVs. Just the way it should be.Looking to recruit? Contact your local Reed office.