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The "Dreaded" Telephone Interview

Article Background

In the current climate with working from home and the COVID-19 crisis, remote interview processes are becoming the norm. Telephone interviews can seem daunting but in your job search, interviews over the phone have become inevitable. In a very candidate short candidate market, we are seeing a high number of passive candidates. 

So, what makes a passive candidate different to an active candidate? Not much really - they are still sitting in front of a client and keen to “explore the market” / “see what else is out there” / “Am I at the right firm for me”. Time is precious and coupled with the challenges that the Coronavirus may throw at us, here at Pro-Tax we have seen more and more telephone interview being arranged in the last three weeks. This week alone we have arranged three telephone interviews, suggested by us to client and candidates alike to keep the recruitment process moving. They are not always the ideal form of interview, but they are undoubtedly a good way for both candidate and client to still have the ‘informal interview’. The telephone interview brings its own challenges for a candidate, and I have outlined some top tips for you to be fully prepared for that call.

1. It is still an interview!

‘I wasn’t prepared for that type of question’ is a phrase that I never want my team to hear. If we do, then we have not done our jobs correctly. Yes, telephone interviews can tend to be more informal but you do need to know your CV, some information on the firm, the potential role (as there should be a potential opportunity, otherwise why are you there?) and knowledge about who you are being interviewed by.

2. Find a quiet room/place where you can talk freely

I would also advise wearing pods/headphones which will remove any background noise and allow you to talk more clearly. Ideally, turn off all other apps/notification - you do not want to be distracted at all.

3. Dress for an interview

Psychologically, you will be in the right frame of mind and it will create a more professional mindset. Sit still at a desk or table rather than on the sofa, or even better stand! It projects your voice and keeps you more alert.

4. Prepare your questions and key points

What makes the firm/role of interest to you? It is a great chance to perhaps ask the questions you would not feel comfortable to ask face to face. This is your chance to ask about flexible working arrangements or progression time lines. Top tip: have a drink prepared just in case you need it to clear your throat or take a pause (ideally not a Gin & Tonic!)

5. Answer the phone in the correct manner

“Good afternoon this is……. speaking”. Make sure to start the conversation in the right way, and at the end of the meeting thank them for their time and make sure to say you will be in touch with the recruiter with thoughts and feedback.

6. Most of all, relax and try to enjoy the interview

Please remember the interview is a 2-way process, so please get out as much as possible. As when you pass on your thoughts and feedback to your agent, we want you to say, “that’s a great role/firm, I am keen” NOT “I am not really sure, I didn't find out enough".

For a more in-depth conversation around alternative interview processes and interview tips within the Tax market, please do get in touch with Kevin Racher on 020 7269 6321 or