Telephone interviewing is a quick and economical first process for selecting candidates. Prepare for a telephone interview as you would for an interview in person, as many of the questions will be very similar. (See main section for preparation).
Telephone interviewA telephone interview can last for up to 1/2 hour and is likely to include standard interview questions such as

Why have you applied for this role? (show your interest in the company and job sector)

What will you bring to this role? (think about your knowledge, skills and experience)

In addition, employers might want to clarify information from your application and ask more details about your work experience or specific skills (possibly some competency questions for which you can use the STAR technique – see top interview page).



  • Allow for a quiet room, maybe put a note outside your door.
  • Tell your flat-mates to keep the noise level down and music off.

do not disturb


A real advantage for telephone interviews is that you can keep important documents by your phone. I would suggest the following:

  • Copies of your CV and your covering letter and/or application questions and answers
  • A copy of the job description (this will help you with answering questions like Why do you want to work for us? and Why do you want to work in this role? highlight this information so you can use this effectively in your answers; it also has a list of requirements normally, which is likely to be the basis for the questions you will be asked
  • A sheet with the requirements from the job description with bullet points of your main example(s) against each requirement, so that you’re not stuck when you are being asked for a specific examples.
  • Be prepared to talk about yourself. If this is a strengths-based interview you may get asked about what makes you happy/angry/frustrated/impatient etc. (See section on strengths-based interviews for more questions below).


Avoid any distractions and focus on what is being said.

Show that you have understood by acknowledging questions. If you are not sure, paraphrase or restate the question (So, what you’re asking is …)

If you need more time to think about an answer, ask for more time.


This is one of the key features of a telephone interview. The interviewer will ask you a question and after your answer will make notes about what you have said. This may take some time. Do not be tempted to fill this time with more comments, extending your answer. Many candidates start rambling and veering off topic at this stage.


smiley face

Consider sticking a post-it note with a smiley face on your work space. This is to remind you to smile at the telephone, which can make you sound more friendly and confident.



Sit up straight, so that your diaphragm is not constricted and you can breath more freely. This will allow your voice to project better and make you sound more confident.


Have one or two questions ready to ask the interviewer.

Examples could be: Could you please tell me a little more about the team I would be joining? What are the company’s plans for the future? [If an internship/placement: What is the conversion rate to full-time job offers from this internship?]

Do not ask about money or perks at this stage, as you are not in a position yet to negotiate this.


Thank the interviewer for his/her time at the end of your interview. Ask what the next stage is, if this has not been mentioned to you and reiterate your interest in this job/placement/internship.


For more tips read the Careers and Employability Service’s information – click here.