I am trying to begin a career in recruitment and, on many occasions, I am
interviewed and tested over the phone by a consultant. Could you give me a few
tips on what to say to make a good impression?
Victoria Wall, managing director, Victoria Wall Associates
One of the main attributes required in recruitment is the ability to quickly
build rapport on the phone with both current and potential clients and candidates,
hence the use of telephone interviews at the first stage.
Prepare yourself thoroughly so that you are able to sound fluent, articulate
and knowledgeable, direct yet friendly. You will be assessed on your listening
skills, tone and professionalism. You should try to use examples from your
previous work experience that provide evidence of suitability. If you are asked
a question you cannot immediately answer, do not be afraid to pause for
thinking time, and be prepared to offer your opinions. Remember, as with all
interviews, it is often not what you say but how you say it – so smile as you
introduce yourself, and remember to be courteous and professional throughout
Peter Sell, joint managing director, DMS consultancy
The key to a telephone interview is to listen to what the interviewer is
asking. They are testing your telephone skills, your ability to listen and
retain information, and are also gaining a limited insight into your
You will notice that many of the interviews are very similar – they are
following a script. If the interview is being conducted profession-ally, then
it should have been booked for a time convenient to you.
Answer the questions as concisely as possible. Tell the truth, as it is easy
to pick up on the telephone when someone is being less than honest. If you are
unsure of what the interviewer is asking, seek clarification rather than waffle
down the wrong track.
Jo Redgwell, consultant, Macmillan Davies Hodes
I am not quite sure whether you are trying to begin a career in recruitment
consultancy or in-house recruitment. I will presume it is an in-house role you
Because the candidate market has grown, clients can be very specific when
they brief consultants about what they are looking for – previous experience is
generally top of the list. If you do not have previous experience, you need to
focus on your other marketable knowledge, such as your understanding of the
total recruitment cycle.
Maybe you could focus on your knowledge of a specific recruiting area – if
you worked in a call centre environment and understand the pressure and issues,
you can utilise this in a call centre recruitment role, for example. You could
always look into taking a course in interviewing techniques or psychometric
testing as both would be useful in a junior recruitment role.
Finally, don’t take ‘no’ for an answer – good things come to those who wait.