Phone interview

Phone interview? Why the hell not!

Having an interview over the phone is common practice and should not worry you in any way.

I can tell that the last few interviews I did in Australia were all over the phone and I got a job offer without ever meeting my future employers.

Why is the interview over the phone?

There are many reasons for the interview to be done over the phone such as

  • You are still overseas
  • You are in a different state
  • The position is FIFO and your future manager is on site
  • The interviewers are in 2 separate location and the interview will be done through a teleconference
  • You asked for it

Preparing for the phone interview.

Research, Research, Research! It is like being back in high-school, when you are about to have an exam but you are allowed to bring your notes and even your laptop.

Here are some of the things you want to have written down in front of you

  • Company information – impress them with knowledge about their company number of employees, value of the stock, company history, company market.
  • Answers to questions you just know they are going to ask you
  • Questions you want to ask them
  • Your salary expectation – do your research

You can request that the names and titles of the people who will be attending the phone interview will be provided prior to the interview. It will give you time to find out who they are on the company website or on Linkedin. It will also make it easier for you to remember their name if you prepared for it.

On the day of the interview

Make sure you have the following:

  • A quite area or room to have an interview
  • Good quality phone or a mobile
  • Headphones for the mobile will keep your hands free during the interview
  • Pen
  • Paper to write on
  • Your preparation notes
  • Laptop with internet connection
  • Some drinks and snacks to avoid fatigue and give you a bit of sugar when you need it

Interview starts

The phone is ringing and you answer politely. There would be two to three people listening to the conversation, the HR Rep, senior employee, a manager or both. You will be introduced to the conversation. Write down the names and title of all member of the teleconference.


Don’t try to control the teleconference or ask questions as the interview is pre-planned and you will be simply asked questions. Firstly, the interviewer shall confirm in brief the details on your CV which he has interest in. Pay attention to them as the remaining of the CV has no interest to them or they missed crucial information from your CV. In either case, it will give you a feedback on how your CV is read and understood. This part normally takes 5-10 minutes.

Tell us about you…

Sometimes you will be asked to tell about yourself and what are you seeking. Make sure you aim the answer to the job description. In this part you are also being reviewed about your English, the way you handle your words and in general how you sound to the people on the other side of the phone. This part normally takes 1-2 minutes

The technical part

At this point the conversation will usually become technical for about 15-30 minutes. Assuming you are applying for something you know, this is the easy part. Be positive and honest. If asked something you don’t know, try to stir the conversation to what you do know. Don’t lie, one little lie is enough to break your credibility and end your chances to a job.

So what do you do after hours?

It can’t be all about work. Australians love their hobbies and leisure time and they want to make sure you have more than just work in your life. It is important to mention friends, hobbies, music, culture, sports you practice. I once spent 30 minutes talking about motorcycles in an interview. We hardly spoke about my work but the boss thought it would be fun to have more motor enthusiast people in the office.

As much as you love your leisure time, if someone starts telling a story about his hobbies, let it be. It means you are doing well and becoming like a colleague, normally integration in their conversation.

Has it been 5-15 minutes? Time to slow down and let the interview move forward.

Have you got any questions to ask us?

Sure you do! You prepared them in advance plus all those questions you wanted to ask before but didn’t want to interrupt the interview so far.

Ask and then listen patiently.

Closure – end of the phone interview

At some point the interviewer will say something like “Thanks John, I guess we have all we need. It was great talking to you; we will make our decision and get back to you”. That is the sign to say “Thank you for your time and I hope to hear from your again”. Usually they will respond with one last “thank you and goodbye” and you hang the phone.

DONE – if it feels good, it was good. Go have some fun and relax for a while, now we wait….


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