In this new employment series, Frontline Recruitment outlines tips to nail your phone interview.
Phone screening interviews may seem like a formality, but be assured you will be judged on personality and presentation with every answer. And it’s important to remember what the interviewer is trying to achieve.

They are trying to filter out the most suitable candidates from a large pool of applicants – generally for a larger retail company or corporation – to go through to face-to-face interviews. So it’s important to concentrate on proving your sound communication skills and professional presentation, as well as trying to nail the individual answers.

The person you speak to is likely to be from HR or retail recruitment, and they will be looking for those who fit the job description, understand the keywords and present a professional, friendly and competent persona.

How can you give your best phone interview?

Don’t try too hard to impress

Remember, the interviewer’s brief is not to identify the winning candidate, but just to select a number of suitably qualified and personable people who broadly fit the role. So don’t bombard the interviewer with facts and stats – be conservative and offer choice, targeted information which answers the question as closely as possible.

Know the job description inside out

The interviewer is likely to be relying heavily on the job description in their quest for suitable candidates for retail jobs. So analyse it carefully before the screening call, work out possible questions from each section, and rehearse your answer.
Be honest about any gaps in your qualifications or experience, but frame these as positives where you can. For instance, you are a quick learner and highly adaptable to new situations and technology, as your resume shows.

Think and talk keywords

That job description will be peppered with keywords regarding technology, skills, education and experience. These are words that represent what the employer regards as essential in the successful candidate.

They will be contained in the job title and especially in the summary and job requirements. So pick out those you think are the most important and ensure you manage to use them liberally in your phone screening. This will make you stand out from the other candidates.

Be punctual

Whatever you do, don’t miss your phone interview! Treat it as seriously as a face-to-face screening, and make sure you allow plenty of time. Be comfortable and relaxed with a notebook and pen beside you for any notes.

Emphasise your strong points

The interviewer will be assessing whether you’re a good fit for the company culture as well as for the individual job role itself. So anything you can do to stress your strong work ethic, diligence and team playing will help your cause.

Think words like collaboration, communication and positivity. Try phrases like ‘eye for detail’, ‘love a challenge’ and ‘always keen to learn’.

So treat the phone screen with respect and help turn job vacancies into face-to-face interviews.

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