Graduate Phone Interviews

Posted by Andrew Purchas

How to nail a phone interview for a graduate program.

What are phone interviews and their purpose?

A phone interview is one of the first steps in the graduate recruitment process. The goal of a phone interview isn’t for a graduate recruiter to get enough information to want to hire you, it’s to get a general sense if they should shortlist you due to some of the following high level points:

  • Personality fit with the company and the team
  • Gauge if there is a potential fit between your background, experience and interests with the company and role on offer
  • Getting a glimpse into personality traits and characteristics
    • Are you on time?
    • Are you prepared?
    • How are your interpersonal and communication skills?
    • Do you have a genuine interest in the company and the role?

If you tick the boxes above – chances are you will be invited to the next step of the graduate recruitment process.

Keep in mind, this is just a quick check to see if you have potential for the role and the whole process might take less than 10 minutes in some cases – don't think that you have done a bad job!

Keep in mind, if a graduate recruiter wants to speak to 250 candidates out of a large application pool, at 10 minutes per conversation, that is a full week of phone calls not counting prep time! Having some empathy for what a graduate recruiter is going through can also go a long way in things like a phone interview.

What to do to prepare for a graduate program phone interview

Phone interviews will generally be booked in at a specific time so there is no excuse for not being prepared in a number of ways.

Understand your selling points and how they correlate with the job

  • Being able to answer concisely the following common phone interview questions What do you know about the company? You would be surprised at the number of grads who can’t name anything relevant
  • Why do you think you would be a good fit for the role? Checking off how you meet certain parts of the job description is a great way to start here.
  • Have the standard examples ready:
    • When you’ve faced a difficult situation and how you overcame it through to a result
    • Showing leadership qualities – Grad programs are about developing future leaders
    • You career aspirations – Where would you like to be in 3, 5 or 10 years' time and how does this role help you get there?
    • Examples of good outcomes within team environments – it can be anything from a sports team, group work project or anything else you can think of
    • Why you want to work at the company

Check your voicemail

Sometimes you might miss the first call – your phone is on silent or something unexpected pops up. Whilst this is understandable and not a problem where you can call back, an informal voicemail message can set you back a step based on some stories we hear from graduate recruiters!

Be in a suitable environment

Nothing makes a phone interviewer tougher for a graduate recruiter than struggling to hear as well as indirectly indicating that you haven’t properly prepared for the call

Communication Style and Mindset

As graduate recruiters sometimes have to have 100’s of calls with grads, a positive conversation and tone can go a long way to being memorable. Whilst an upbeat and casual tone can be had for this quick chat and have a strong impact on their decision, also remember that this is a professional setting.

Always have questions

Most phone interviews will give you a chance to ask questions and is a chance to demonstrate a number of key attributes mentioned above. If you can be up to date around current events, recent projects or the industry the company operates in this is a great chance to come across as well informed and demonstrate a great fit.

After phone interviews, generally the next step in the recruitment process is psychometric testing where we have you covered as well!


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