Graduate telephone interview advice

9 August 2019

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Often when you are applying for graduate jobs, you may be asked to take part in an initial telephone interview. Generally, phone interviews are used by managers and recruiters to screen candidates early in the recruitment selection stage and to filter out those who are not right for the job. They tend to be informal interviews; however, you still need to prepare for them. For the best chance of getting through a telephone interview to the next stage of the recruitment process we recommend that you follow our top tips below:
  • Research the company beforehand – this is our number one tip. Always research the company before to you attend any interview even a telephone interview
  • Find somewhere quiet where you won’t be interrupted – you do not want to be asking the interviewer to repeat themselves because you can’t hear them properly over the background noise
  • Ensure you have your CV to hand – this is so you can referrer back to it if needed
  • Prepare questions to ask them as you would for a face-to-face interview
  • Smile while talking on the phone – this can help to make you sound more confident and relaxed
  • If possible, use headphones or put your phone on speaker – this is so your hands are free to take any notes
  • Keep your answers concise – Phone interviews tend to be short, so you don’t want to be waffling on. You could always ask the interviewer if they want you to go into more detail.

While most telephone interviews are the first step of the interview process and tend to be an informal chat, some companies do use telephone or video interviews as the main interview -especially if you are located some distance from their offices.

In a telephone interview the interviewer will be able to ascertain your communication style and skill, enthusiasm for the role and your knowledge and expertise.

Graduate telephone interview questions

Every interview is different and depending on the type of role you are going for you may be asked specific technical questions that are relevant to the role and your expertise. However, there are generally a number of standard questions that an interviewer might ask you:

Tell me about yourself

Many interviewers might start off with asking you to tell them a little about yourself. As phone interviews are short make sure you keep to the point, you are taking part in this telephone interview to secure yourself a job. The best way to tackle this question is to use a formula known as the Present-Past-Future. Start by telling them your current situation, then give them a short history of your past which includes your time at university, any previous jobs you’ve had and the relevant skills you have acquired either through university, your extracurricular activities or in the workplace.

What do you know about the company?

This is an important question to get right. The employer will not look kindly on someone who has not done their preparation. Before the interview, take some time to research the company and re-read the job description, so it is fresh in your mind. The best way to research the company is by going to their website, however, also see if they have appeared in the news recently (look at trade press as well as consumer press) and take a look at their social media accounts. Having a wide range of knowledge to draw from about the company will demonstrate to the employer how much you want the job.

Why are you interested in working for us?

With this question, the interviewer is interested why you applied for the job. You need to think about this carefully as stating that you want the job because it’s in a convenient location or because you want a graduate job is not going to impress them. Think about what attracted you to the role, it could be the industry the company is in, challenges the role brings or it may be because the company’s values align with your own.

What are your salary expectations?

This is one of the most common questions asked in an interview. When talking about salary expectations you need to be realistic and remember that location, position, company size and sector play a big part in salary calculations. For example, graduate roles in the capital tend to have higher salaries, but remember that reflects the higher cost of living. Make sure you do your research on what the average graduate salary is in your field. You may want to get advice on this and if the interview has been arranged through a recruitment consultant then they may be able to offer some guidance.

Video and Skype interviews: tips for graduates

If the role you are applying for is in another country or some distance some from where you live, you may be asked to take part in a skype or video interview. Like you would for a telephone or a face-to-face interview you will need to do your research and make sure you have memorized your CV and the key points of the job description. However, unlike a phone interview you will need to think about what you are going to wear, the location of your interview (remember they will be able to see the environment you are in) and you need a back up plan for any potential technical issues.

Remember, a Skype interview is still a formal interview, you need to dress the part, so ensure you dress appropriately for the interview. Think carefully about where you are going to conduct the interview. Be aware of what the interviewer can see behind you, make sure there isn’t any inappropriate pictures or posters on the wall and ensure the area around you is clean and tidy. If you need to conduct the interview outside of your home, then ask your university if you can use a room or if you need to do it in a public place, let the interviewer know in advance.

If you don’t have Skype already, download it and set up and account well in advance of the interview and ensure you have made a couple of test calls to friends or family, so you know it works. Another tip is to use a microphone or headphones to reduce feedback. If you are having major technical difficulties, such as your internet is down. Call the interviewer and let them know and ask to reschedule the interview.

Whatever type of interview you have make sure you’ve done your research and are fully prepared for whatever the interviewer will throw at you.

If you are a STEM graduate and looking for your first graduate job then upload your CV to STEM graduates today.

For more interview top tips and career advice head over to our blog.

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