9Chap er 1hat is atelephoneinterview andwhat are theyused for?The first thing we are going to look at is what a telephone interview actuallyis. If we understand what a telephone interview is then we will be able tounderstand what the person assessing you is looking for. Let’s get straightinto it.One of the main reasons an organisation will have a telephone interview isthat they don’t want to meet hundreds or scores of applicants face-to-faceduring the early stages of selection. If they do that, it can be extremelytime-consuming and expensive. A telephone interview can last, say, 5minutes; sometimes they will go on to 20 or 30 minutes, but the greatthing about them is the assessor does not have to meet you until they are100% certain that you meet the qualities required for the role. An employermay decide to use someone else within their organisation, or in fact arecruitment agency, to carry out the telephone interviews for them. That
10T I T IQuestions & nswersmeans the people who pass the telephone interview are the best of theinitial sift and they are far more likely to meet the criteria the employer islooking for. So in harsh terms a telephone interview is a sifting process.Because it’s a sifting process, some candidates don’t really take telephoneinterviews that seriously.Obviously you are going to take it seriously because you want to get toattend the all-important face-to-face interview. Nowadays, there are manyhundreds of applicants for very few jobs and the competition is fierce;therefore, you need to be fully prepared and up for the challenge thetelephone interviews presents.In addition to using a telephone interview as a sifting process, it can alsobe used when a candidate has to travel a long way and the employerdoesn’t want to put the candidate through the stress and hassle of a longjourney unless they definitely have the skills required to carry out the job.Hopefully you are starting to learn that the telephone interview will be usedto assess whether or not you have the qualities required to carry out therole. During a telephone interview the employer will not really be able toassess your ‘likeability’ factor, or whether or not you will fit in to their teamand organisation. However, a telephone interview is perfect for assessingwhether or not you have the right skills, qualities and experiences for thejob.I’ve personally interviewed hundreds of people for different jobs in thepast, and sometimes I have thought to myself – “What the heck areyou doing here?” It would have been far better for that person to have atelephone interview, because they clearly don’t have the skills, attributes orqualifications to carry out the role.An application form is a great way of assessing people, but you don’tactually have any interaction with an application form. Therefore, as anassessor, it is very difficult to ascertain whether that person is suitable. So,let’s quickly recap on what we have learnt so far:• A telephone interview is used as an initial sift to filter out those peoplewho may not be suitable for the post.• Telephone interviews can be outsourced to recruitment agencies orsomeone else within the organisation.• Telephone interviews are cost and time effective.
11C 1 What is a telephone interview and what are they used for• Telephone interviews assess whether or not you have the skills,qualities and experiences to carry out the role.• A telephone interview is basically the first stage of a selection process.Sometimes it comes directly after an application form, but it’sbasically the first stage for them to get a feel for what you’re like as aperson.ow do you know whe her or no you havehe sk lls and exper en e hey are look ng for?This is very easy to determine. One of the most important pieces of adviceI can offer you is to get yourself a copy of the person specification andjob description for the role you are being interviewed by telephone for.These two important documents are the blueprint to your success. Thesedocuments have been specifically created by the employer to determinewhat qualities and experiences the successful candidate must have if he orshe is going to be successful. In order to explain exactly what I mean, let’stake a look at a person specification for a call centre operator.J C I TI – C T ICJ I TI : C C T TI I I : C C T / T & TT J CTI : To fully satisfy the needs of the customer atthe first point of contact.I TI I I ITI1. To respond to customers in an effective and courteousmanner either face to face or over the telephone by operatingscreen-based telephony and information systems.2. To receive and establish the nature of the enquiry, log asnecessary, to take payments where appropriate and respondby the giving of direct information or by interacting betweenthe caller and the appropriate Service or agency.
12T I T IQuestions & nswers3. To operate all systems within the Call Centre/Meet & Greet/Staff Entrance in accordance with training, received writtenprocedures and operating manuals.4. When face to face, deal with enquiries, issue public forms/leaflets, publications, passes, permits as appropriate andmake available to view various documentation. Whendealing with enquiries over the telephone liaise with andcommunicate with other service units & external agencies asappropriate.5. To assist in the development of information systems and thetraining of colleagues in relevant functional areas.6. To retain and record such information as appropriate andmaintain records and statistics as required.7. To receive complaints made face-to-face or by telephone,ascertain the nature of the complaint, log onto complaintssystem or pass to appropriate service unit.8. Must be prepared to cover for holidays and sickness, asrequired, for any duty rota within the operating period.9. To regularly attend staff meetings and training sessions forthe continual development of services and staff.Once you have a copy of the relevant person specification and jobdescription you can then start to prepare for the telephone interview. I will,of course, provide you with a host of sample telephone interview questionsto prepare for later on in the guide; however, it is important that I teach youhow to predict telephone interview questions based around the personspecification/job description first of all, because it is these documentswhich hold the key to your success.So, based on the above person specification I can predict that there is astrong possibility I will be asked the following questions:
13C 1 What is a telephone interview and what are they used for1. To respond to customers in an effective and courteous mannereither face to face or over the telephone by operating screen-basedtelephony and information systems.Question – Can you give me an example when you have previouslydealt with a customer query in an effective and courteous manner?2. To receive and establish the nature of the enquiry, log as necessary, totake payments where appropriate and respond by the giving of directinformation or by interacting between the caller and the appropriateService or agency.Question – Can you tell me a situation when you have logged detailsof a customer’s query following a telephone call?3. To operate all systems within the Call Centre/Meet & Greet/ StaffEntrance in accordance with training, received written proceduresand operating manuals.Question – Can you give an example of when you have carried out awork-related role in line with your training and company procedures?4. When face to face, deal with enquiries, issue public forms/leaflets,publications, passes, permits as appropriate and make available toview various documentation. When dealing with enquiries over thetelephone liaise with and communicate with other service units &external agencies as appropriate.Question – Can you give an example of when you worked or liaisedwith other agencies to resolve a customer query or complaint?5. To assist in the development of information systems and the trainingof colleagues in relevant functional areas.Question – Can you give an example of when you have undertaken aproject that helped to develop members of staff?6. To retain and record such information as appropriate and maintainrecords and statistics as required.Question – How would you go about recording information andmaintaining records at work?
14T I T IQuestions & nswers7. To receive complaints made face-to-face or by telephone, ascertainthe nature of the complaint, log onto complaints system or pass toappropriate service unit.Question – Can you give an example of when you have dealt with acustomer’s complaint from start to finish?8. Must be prepared to cover for holidays and sickness, as required, forany duty rota within the operating period.Question – Can you give an example of when you have shownflexibility in a work-related situation?9. To regularly attend staff meetings and training sessions for thecontinual development of services and staff.Question – Can you give an example of when you have attendedmeetings at work that involved the continuous professionaldevelopment of staff?It is important for me to point out here that you do not need to comeup with examples and situations for every single element of the jobdescription/person specification. However, if you follow the above processwhen preparing for a telephone interview then you will be far betterprepared for it and be able to respond to their questions in a competentmanner.emember, the key to your success is to obtain a copy of the personspecification and job description, study them in detail and thenprovide examples of where you have previously demonstrated thequalities and attributes that are contained within the documents(s).
15C 1 What is a telephone interview and what are they used for10 mpor an ps for pass ngany elephone n erv ewI want to now provide you with ten essential tips that will go a long way tohelping you pass your telephone interview. Follow these tips and you will befar better prepared than the majority of applications:TI 1When you have a date for your telephone interview immediately place itin your diary. However many days you have to prepare for the telephoneinterview, start preparing immediately for it. Most people prepare the nightbefore the telephone interview, which is not particularly good practice!Youhave a lot of work to do, so the sooner you start the better. The areas thatyou need to work on are:• How you communicate on the telephone• Researching the role you are applying for (you can do this by getting acopy of the job description or person specification)• Researching the company you are applying to join (this can usually bedone by visiting their website).TI 2Before the telephone interview commences makes sure that:• Your telephone is fully charged (if using a mobile phone)• You are in an area that has a good reception (if using a mobile telephone)• You will not be disturbed by anyone or anything.TI 3When the employer calls you to undertake the telephone interview makesure you speak clearly and concisely. Although the interviewer cannot seeyou, they will form an opinion of how you communicate. Communicatingeffectively includes:• Speaking clearly and concisely• Being professional at all times• Avoiding the use of abbreviations or slang
16T I T IQuestions & nswers• Listening to what the interviewer has to say and answering thequestions appropriately.TI 4It is far better to be seated comfortably in a quiet room away from anydistractions during the telephone interview. Some people prefer to stand upand walk around; however, if you do this you are far more likely to breatheheavier during the interview which may be distracting to the interviewer.TI 5If you have previously submitted an application form prior to the telephoneinterview, make sure you have a copy of it in front of you. It is alsoadvisable that you have a copy of your CV. If the interviewer asks youquestions about your previous employment or qualifications dates then youwill have the information to hand.TI 6Have a pen and piece of paper in front of you so that you can write downnotes and even briefly write down any questions they put to you so thatyou can refer back to them during questioning.TI 7It’s useful to have a glass of water to hand during a phone interview (butmove the phone away from your mouth when you swallow).You will bedoing a lot of talking and you don’t want your mouth to dry up at a crucialmoment during the telephone interview.TI 8Be sure to smile when speaking during the telephone interview.You wouldbe amazed at the difference it makes to your tone of voice. Even thoughthey cannot see you, they will hear a positive vibe in your voice if you smilewhilst you speak!TI 9During a face-to-face interview you interact with the interviewer by noddingyour head and showing facial expressions. Obviously you cannot do this
17C 1 What is a telephone interview and what are they used forduring a telephone interview. Therefore, you have to show that you arepaying attention by using small phrases and communications such as “OK”,“uh-huh”, “I see”, “I understand”, “yes” or similar quotes/phrases.TI 10A large part of the telephone interview assessment will be how youcommunicate. Communicating effectively is not just about how you speak,it’s also about how you listen. Listen to what the interviewer has to say andengage with them positively. Do not come across as monotone, boring ordis-interested. Always be positive!In the next chapter we will take a look at how you can best research thecompany you are applying to join.Visit www.How2Become.com for freecareers advice and help.