How to Carry Out a Phone Interview

Posted on Monday, March 23, 2020 by The InterviewerNo comments

When you’re hiring, you don’t always have to meet face to face for an interview. With the right insight and understanding, you can find out just as much about a potential candidate from a phone interview. As a leading recruitment agency, we’re keen to support employers in finding the right staff quickly and easily.

When are phone interviews useful?

Phone interviews are useful when you’re unable to meet the person directly. During the current coronavirus outbreak, phone interviews enable you to keep hiring while the office is shut and people are working from home. However, phone interviews can also be useful when you’re working remotely or overseas, or you’re looking to hire someone to temp in London who isn’t there yet. They’re also ideal when you want to keep overheads down or don’t want to draw attention to interviews taking place in the office. What’s more, they can be useful for initial screening as well as in-depth interviewing.

Getting started with a phone interview

Here are some basic tips to follow to get your phone interview off to a good start:

  • Schedule the time in writing via email. You may also want to determine the length of the interview in advance.
  • Organise the technology. For example, if there’s going to be several interviewers, make sure everyone knows how to join in the conference call, including the candidate.
  • Assess the candidate’s CV and prepare questions as much as you would for a face-to-face interview.
  • Head to the candidate’s LinkedIn profile and do some reading in advance.

Vital tips for phone interviews

There are some differences when interviewing over the phone compared to face to face.

As an interviewer, you’re at an advantage as the candidate cannot see your note-taking. Use this to fact-check the interview as it happens, returning to claims they’ve previously made.

Try to minimise your talking and allow plenty of pauses for the candidate to speak. They should be doing most of the talking, although it can be tempting to jump in. There’s no opportunity to read body language over the phone, so it can be helpful to make the conversation more structured.

Ensure you take ample notes. Without a face to put to the CV, you’ll find it harder to remember who’s who. Your notes will help you keep on track once you’ve done a few different phone interviews.

Questions that work well in phone interviews

There’s no right or wrong when it comes to choosing the best questions to ask. However, as any recruitment agency will tell you, they should be consistent between candidates. The nature of the questions will depend on whether you’re using the call for screening or a full interview.

Good screening questions include asking about a candidate’s current salary or what they liked about the job advert.  Your remaining questions should focus on the role and the company, and how the candidate matches these. Rather than asking them to list a skill, request examples of times they’ve performed a certain task or displayed a specific quality. Also, be sure to address any gaps in their CV.

What to look out for in a phone interview

When conducting a phone interview, you’re on the lookout for many of the same things as a face-to-face interview. Check for consistency and authenticity. Consider whether the individual seems a good match for the organisational culture as well as the specific role. The phone call should feel energised and focused.

If you’re unsure about conducting phone interviews, give our London recruitment consultants a call on 020 7870 7177. They can advise you on how to make the most of this option and can even act as another interviewer for you.


Love Success is a leading London PA & office support recruitment agency.
Our expert recruiters can help you find permanent and temporary jobs in London.

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