How to handle Telephone Interviews

August 14, 2014

Here at CapeClarke, we are not huge fans of telephone interviews.

Nothing can replace that personal element of a traditional face-to-face interview – you can judge your interviewer’s reactions and assess your own performance throughout the interview, adapting as appropriate.  However, phone interviews are increasingly being used as a first port of call for applicants not located in the city of the available legal role.  Firms are happy to use it as a first screening process.

In our view, telephone interviews are tougher than those in person but here are some tips to make the phone interview create some impact with the interviewer.

1. Prepare for the interview in the same way you would for a face-to-face interview.

2. Make sure you get the interviewer’s name right and then use it as appropriate during the interview – this will help create rapport in a difficult situation.

3. Have a list of things you feel you really need to get across in the interview. If it helps put key words on some cards and place them where you can see them to remind yourself.

4. This might sound silly, but we find dressing for the part helps as you feel professional – this will come across in the interview.

5. Stand and pace if it will help you breathe and project your voice as best you can. If there is no room to do so make sure you are seated comfortably, but not too relaxed.

6. Keep a pen and paper handy for you to take notes in case you have questions or need/want to refer to something later.

7. Keep a copy of your CV so you can refer to it.

8. This sounds obvious – but, if you are using a landline, make sure your mobile phone is swtiched off.

9. Don’t smoke, chew gum or eat.  Keep a glass of water handy in case you need to refresh your mouth – obviously not when you are in the middle of a sentence!  Wait for the interviewer to speak and you to be silent.

10. Smiling while talking will project a positive image and change the tone of your voice. Speak slowly and enunciate clearly.

11. Very important – do not interrupt the interviewer.

12. Do not answer “yes” or “no” but try to keep your answers succinct. Take your time – it is perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts.

13. Remember your goal is to get a face-to-face interview.

14. Thank the interviewer for his or her time and say that you hope to meet them in person.

15. Don’t be afraid to ask what the next step is from here. What is the timeline for the recruitment campaign?


An additional difficulty arises in a video conference interview.  When you go to the law firm’s office for a video interview, one interviewer will usually be in the room with you.  If that is the case, always make sure that you are including all people in the interview – address each person with eye contact and direct verbals to each of them.  It feels awkward looking away from someone in the room and into a camera, but it is important that the interviewer on screen does not feel left out.  At the end of the day, he/she is important enough to be part of the interview process.

We hope you have found this useful, but if you would like to discuss in greater detail, have been thinking about a move or would just like some general advice about options in the market, please feel free to contact Terry Cape or Chris Clarke on 0113 2385965.

CapeClarke is a leading niche legal recruitment consultancy operating across Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, Liverpool and London. Please feel free to check out our priority legal vacancies by clicking here.  Please note these legal vacancies are only a small selection of those we have been instructed on, so please get in touch if you do not see a role which looks suitable.


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