Family & Work

How to Secure Meetings and Interviews Over the Phone

You may be looking to refresh or expand your team and an efficient way of narrowing down a large pile of CVs is an initial call with the candidates. Or perhaps you are facing a telephone interview as part of changing jobs? The telephone interview remains a staple of many recruiters’ process. It’s therefore becoming more and more important for those seeking work or looking for a new team member to get to grips with this way of recruitment.

What makes a great telephone interview? You may actually find that the telephone interview can be more of a challenge, requiring extra preparation and focus, than a face to face situation. If done well, the interview will feel more like a constructive chat. But, for an interviewee, getting the balance between saying too little and giving away too much can be difficult. For example, it may be harder to identify a natural break or end to a conversation. And for the interviewer, not having the face to face contact nor the ability to read the person’s body language can make it harder to evaluate what the person is like.

For many years the face to face interview has been a mainstay of recruitment. However, in today’s world, with most companies operating globally, along with increasing pressures to recruit faster and more efficiently it is not always possible to meet in person. Like many things in life, these processes have moved on and we are now often asked to participate in all manner of recruitment activities such as video-linked calls, psychometric tests and group assessment centres, as well as multiple interviews and visits to the office.

Here are 5 tips on great telephone interviews for interviewees:

  1. Keep your preparation notes near you: One of the benefits of the phone interview is that your preparation can be right in front of you. You can have your CV, your questions and other notes ready to refer to so you don’t miss out any key information you want to highlight during the discussion. Perfect for those of us who have left an interview only to remember all of the things we should have said but also for those who recruit as they can make notes and pick up on questions they may otherwise miss.
  2. Watch your language: think about how you come across on the phone. It is difficult to read body language on the phone; so it is making a judgment from what you say, how you say it, and the tone of your voice.
  3. Don’t leave your research to last minute inspiration: as with any interview, prepare well in advance, do your research before – not as you are on the call!
  4. Keep it quiet: ensure that you made the necessary arrangements to take the call in a place where you are unlikely to be interrupted.
  5. Manners matter: Although you can’t shake hands at the end of the discussion, ensure you finish the call as politely and professionally as it started to give you the best chance of success at whatever stage you are in during the recruitment process.

So, a great telephone interview is much like a great face-to-face interview, but with some vital tweaks. Nail these and you will give yourself the best possible chance of moving to the next stage in the recruitment process whether you are a candidate or an employer.

By dana denis-smith

Dana Denis-Smith is an entrepreneur, former Linklaters solicitor and international journalist who lives in London, UK. In 2010, she founded Obelisk Legal Support Solutions (Obelisk Support--, a London-based alternative legal services company built around flexible, highly-skilled professionals. Aware that the legal profession is far behind its times in terms of gender diversity, she initiated the First 100 Years project ( to celebrate the journey of women in the legal profession in the United Kingdom over the past 100 years and this project will celebrate the centenary of women in law in 2019.

In 2018, Obelisk's founder Dana Denis-Smith was voted Legal Personality of the Year at the LexisNexis Awards 2018 and Obelisk Support joined the top tier of two prestigious lists, the FT1000 Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies and Inc. 5000 List of Europe's Fastest-Growing Companies. In 2017, Dana also won the WEConnect International Best Mentor and Role Model Award and delivered a TEDx talk on how to be remembered (based on her observations of the legal profession). In 2016, she was voted one of Britain’s five most inspiring mothers for juggling up a new business creation with family life, as she chooses to work flexibly in order to spend quality time with her young daughter.