Graduate Blog

Recruiter Telephone Interviews


As a blogger on, I like to check out what other people are blogging about and the general changes in trends. One (very relevant) topic that crops up regularly is that of employability and how to get the job that you want. Popular subjects tend to include CV advice and job application tips, and how to succeed at interview. This left me thinking: What about the stage in between?

You know the one, when you get that call from the recruiter ‘regarding your application’. The same one where you have to try and persuade the person on the end of the telephone how fantastic you are and why you must reach interview stage, based on your skills and experience to date. Yep – that one.

I struggle with the concept of recruitment companies, finding it difficult to identify how they’re able to filter candidates and come up with those best for the role, when they recruit for a wide spec of roles and job areas, all requiring very specific skills and expertise. Having worked in graduate recruitment myself (for my sins), I often found myself sat wondering how on earth I, with my law degree and no experience of the IT industry at all, was best advised to recruit for the role of C# PHP Developer on which I was working. Surely someone knowledgeable and well-experienced in the field would be more suited to choosing the candidate, knowing the role intimately and being fully aware of what would be required?

My personal opinion aside, I think we can often forget the recruiter, the ‘Middle Man’, when it comes to handing out employability advice. After all, it’s they that have the power to decide whether your application (that you probably spent hours deliberating over) is forwarded to the client or binned. With that in mind, it’s probably not a good idea to hack them off. You want your application to be seen by the client, and in doing that you’ve actually got TWO people to impress – recruiter and client!

To try and address this gap between application and interview, I have come up with my own do and don’t list, based upon my own experience as that Middle Man.

  • Talk to me – if you don’t talk to the recruiter on a telephone, how will behave if put face-to-face in an interview?


  • But….. don’t talk too much, and in particular try not to talk over me – I’m pleased that you had these amazing opportunities but I have other questions, and really your elephant ride whilst travelling is not relevant to your ability to use the Adobe Creative Suite.


  • Take it seriously – You’d be surprised at the amount of conversations I’ve had with applicants, where you feel that they aren’t interested in talking to you because you’re not the company? This annoys recruiters and will probably result in their looking for a reason not to put you forward.


  • Be passionate – I want to know why you applied and ‘because I thought it looked alright’ isn’t good enough. I want to know how you’d be good, the things that were particularly appealing to you and why. This gives us a good idea as to how much effort you’d put in to work, as well as giving us the opportunity to test your communication skills.


  • Act like it’s a mini interview – at the end of the day, treat it as such and you can’t really go wrong. By treating the conversation a bit like an interview, you come across as articulate, focused and serious about the opportunity and that is like music to our ears.

Oh, and just one last tip (one that I often fail to do myself) – most of us work full or part time and you can guarantee that the call will come when you’re unable to answer it. Try and return the call as quickly as possible though. Recruiters work to tight deadlines and if you leave it too long, you may find that a different selection have already been sent in your place by the time you respond.

About the Author

Rachel Hill Rachel Hill

My name is Rachel and I have been lucky enough to study at two UK Universities. I first studied Law at Leeds Metropolitan and then went on to study at Masters in Management and Human Resource Management at Nottingham Trent. I now work as an HR Assistant and hope eventually to become a fully qualified HR Officer, having a particular interest in Learning and Development.

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