Telephone interviews… the Do’s and Don’ts


I’ve just come to the end of my internship in  the Global Sourcing Team at Airbus Group Recruitment Centre, and the experience has been so so beneficial in so many ways. I’ve learnt how to function like an adult in an office environment, to arrive at work on time, and even to decide what to eat for lunch everyday in the canteen (a genuine achievement!). The main font of knowledge that I have acquired however is within the recruitment function, and how things really work behind the careers pages of a company website.

Telephone interviews serve to find out whether your profile matches what the hiring manager is looking for in this role. If you’re invited to a telephone interview, it might be to clarify something from your CV, to gain some more information regarding your experiences, or even just to gather a few administrative details. Since I’ve been spending the majority of my days conducting telephone interviews with potential candidates, I’ve managed to pick up on the few things that successful candidates tend to do more of when it comes to telephone interviews and would love to share them with y’all x)

  • DO answer what you’ve actually been asked!

    This is quite tricky because it is so easily done. You’ve probably done some revision for the interview and you’re ready to show off the knock-your-socks-off paragraph you’ve rehearsed, however you need to make sure that you don’t regurgitate this information at the first given opportunity without listening to what the interviewer has really asked. Extremely frustrating when a candidate has been talking for 5 minutes but you still haven’t really got the information that you were looking for.

  • DON’T tell your life story!

    Similar to the point above, answer what you’ve actually been asked. The interviewer has several interviews to conduct every day and are busy people, therefore it is not in their interest to listen to a rambling, irrelevant speech without a clear focus. It’s important to give concise and confident answers, but at the same time…

  • DO give the interviewer something to work with!

    There is nothing more disheartening when you ask a candidate what they do in their current role/what they’d like to do in the future/why they want this particular role, to be given a one. sentence. answer. Most of the time an interviewer can pick up on nerves or shyness, and that’s completely understandable! However if you just try to answer as if you were speaking with a good friend, genuinely and enthusiastically, then the rest of the information should flow naturally.


  • DON’T dumb yourself down!

    I found it so sad when I’d ask a candidate to explain to me their experience in a given area and they’d seem to actively emphasise that they don’t have any. It’s really about meeting yourself in between over exaggerating your previous professional experiences, and being brutally, painfully honest. For me, a good way to deal with this would be to say “I’ve done some research into this area and it’s something I’m really interested to try even though I haven’t had the opportunity to work directly in this area yet“. If you can then go on to explain which of your skills would be transferable for this role and why, it’s a job well done!


  • DO speak at a typable speed!

    Very often the interviewer will be typing some notes about your interview as you’re talking, so it’s important to speak not so fast that they might miss important information for your application.tumblr_mwjlmfJ1vx1rkiuhro1_500

  • DON’T give generic answers!

    If I had a euro for every time someone told me they were a team player… It’s really nice when a candidate pulls out a different answer to the one you were expecting, it means that they’ve given the interview some thought beforehand and will come as a nice surprise to the interviewer!

    tumblr_inline_mltikivqEw1qz4rgpNB: This can be much easier said than done, even I’ve found myself saying I’m a ‘great communicator’ and ‘a quick learner’ thanks to nerves and the pressure in interviews since  being in my role at the recruitment centre. Something to be aware of!

  • DO give some examples!

    For the love of Christ when you’re asked if you’ve experience in quantum physics or procurement or composite design do not just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’! The interviewer wants something to write down and they will not always work for the information if you won’t readily provide it. If you think of it like a university essay “Yes I have experience in [xyz area] thanks to my experience at [xyz company] where I did [xyz activities] and it was successful because of [xyz reason]“. It really is so simple!


  • DON’T be unprepared!

    There are some questions that will be SURE to come up during a job interview, make sure you rehearse them before the call. You should be able to confidently reel off your strengths and weaknesses, what you’d like to do in the future and why you think you’re a good candidate with the drop of a hat.


  • DO know why you want the job and what it involves!

    I find that the best candidates are able to explain to me in detail what aspects of the job they’ve applied for sound particularly interesting, and even how this job will fit into their overall career plan. It makes their application sound more significant because they’ve proven to you their motivation for the job, and even without hearing their experience this can be pretty powerful.

    There you go! A lot easier said that done in many occasions, and when nerves get the better of us it is natural to slip up. Interviewers are used to this and are there to do you and your application justice, so if you feel as if perhaps things aren’t going the way you’d like them to during your telephone interview, my advice would be to pause, take a breath and realign with what you want to say in order to get across all of your best bits. Incorporate all of these points and you’ve just managed to give a pretty solid interview!

Any questions please do hit me up in a comment below, or in a message here. Good luck! 🙂

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Please note that the content of this blog post are my own and does not necessarily reflect the official opinions of Airbus Group.

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