The Phone Interview

By l'équipe de Novea
Consulting Services for Employees

The Phone Interview

For a company or a recruiter, the telephone interview is a crucial step in the evaluation of an application. During this fifteen to thirty minute call, the candidate must take advantage of the situation to make the best possible impression, while answering the interviewer’s questions. Because this is the first contact between the company and the candidate, it is essential to be well prepared.

The telephone interview allows, among other things, to validate the salary expectations, the professional objectives and the interest of the candidate, but also to have an idea of his/her personality in order to validate a certain “fit” with the team and the company’s values.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you succeed in this important step of the recruitment process.


First of all, be organized! As recruiters, it happens quite regularly that we get ready for the telephone interview (reading the CV and letter, preparing our interview questions, consulting the documentation provided in support of the application) to end up calling a candidate who had completely forgotten about our telephone appointment scheduled several days ago.

This type of situation unfortunately leaves the unpleasant feeling that the candidate is not able to manage his/her own agenda, which is not the first impression you want to give to your interviewer. For example, if you are an administrative professional and may be called upon in the future to manage your boss’s agenda, your organizational skills may be questioned. Punctuality is also a quality valued by all employers without exception, so it is essential to be on time (and present!) for a telephone appointment.

If the initial time chosen is no longer convenient for you, be transparent: contact the recruiter by e-mail, mention the issue that has arisen on your side and suggest another time for the call. No one will blame you for having to deal with an emergency as long as you remain proactive and transparent.

A Conducive Place

We invite you to settle down in a quiet place where you can speak freely and where there is not too much noise. If you are outside or on the move, it is likely that your interlocutor will not hear you well. A restaurant or a department store is definitely not a good place to be, as the noise usually makes what you say unintelligible. If necessary, your car (when stationary) can be a fallback situation.

It is also very difficult to establish a real dialogue if the person you are talking to only responds in monosyllables or short sentences. This happens regularly when the candidate takes a call in public or in the office. Remember that this call is a way to get to know you, so don’t hesitate to keep the conversation going and don’t forget to expand on your answers.


In order to demonstrate your interest in the position and your level of professionalism, we invite you to familiarize yourself with your interviewer’s professional profile. When you do business with us, and we schedule a telephone interview or an in-person meeting with a candidate at one of our clients, we always indicate in an email the relevant links to consult before the meeting. These links can be: the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile or online biography, the company’s website, some relevant news articles to read, the job posting or description of the role, etc.

The more you know about your interviewer’s professional background, the company’s mission and the requirements of the position, the more you demonstrate your seriousness and commitment to the process. Obviously, you must do this research and preparation before each of your telephone interviews, for each company you target.

A talent acquisition specialist, whether in an agency or in a company, will take the time before each telephone interview to prepare for the call by consulting the candidate’s CV, cover letter and LinkedIn profile, in addition to preparing a list of questions. It is therefore highly appreciated when the preparation effort is also made on the candidate’s side.

Make a List

Sometimes a candidate applies to so many places at once that they are unable to remember which companies their application was sent to. This is problematic because if the candidate receives a call from the company that wants to move forward with their application, they need to remember which position or role they are applying to or they will make a bad impression.

In order to avoid this unfortunate situation, we encourage you to make a detailed list of the companies and positions you have applied for. If you are dealing with a recruitment agency, this will also help the agency to represent you in a better way, and will increase your credibility, since the recruiter will make sure that you do not apply several times for the same position.

As such, it is imperative to be transparent about your approach. Being involved in several recruitment processes at the same time is not a unfavorable thing, but mentioning it to the recruiter who represents you will allow him/her to take into account the decisions you are likely to face, and thus accompany you as best as possible.

On the other hand, your application is valuable. If you decide to share it with several agencies and companies, make sure that it is with agencies and companies that you have personally targeted.

We also invite you, in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises, to make it very clear to all the agency recruiters with whom you collaborate that you do not want your CV to be circulated without your consent. Unfortunately, it is a well-known and popular practice among some agencies (but not among us!) to send a candidate’s application file to one of their clients without the candidate’s consent. Your CV can therefore end up with various companies without you even knowing it. Be vigilant and firm with the agencies that support you in your efforts.

Active Listening

In order to demonstrate your interest in the role as much as possible during the telephone interview, we invite you to be an active listener. Be attentive to the person you are talking to and do not interrupt. Afterwards, do not hesitate to rephrase the question if you want to be sure you have understood it correctly. Remain clear and concise in your answer and explanations while being transparent and honest. Ask questions about the role and the company, as well as about the profile you are looking for, and don’t hesitate to take a step back if you are one of those who talk too much. Note that the more prepared you are for the call, the easier it will be to answer questions and keep the conversation going.

Talent acquisition professionals like to feel the authenticity of an interaction. It is easy to detect discomfort, lies or inconsistencies in what is being said. Staying true to yourself is the best advice for a phone interview.

Also, remember to give your full attention to the telephone exchange as much as possible. Conversations interrupted by the arrival of a message are not that rare, and feeling that you are regularly losing the attention of your interviewer can leave a mixed impression.

What to do Next

Finally, we invite you to take note of the contact information (full name, title, phone number and email) of your interviewer in order to send a brief thank you note by email following the call.

If you do not get an in-person interview after the phone call, do not be discouraged. Remember that the goal of the job search process is not only to get a job, but also to get a job that will match your long-term career aspirations. So it’s only a matter of time before you get there.

For more advice or information from our team, contact one of our members today.