Five W’s of Telephone Interviews in Customer Service

Another searched topic on Service Untitled is related to telephone interviews. Readers seem to be interested in telephone interviews, so I’ll talk about them! I’ll try to do a 5 W (and 1 H!) spin as well.

All companies, regardless of size hiring customer service representatives (and other positions) should do at least one telephone interview with qualifying candidates. A brief telephone interview (15 minutes) should be done with basically all applicants who meet the minimum requirements (experience, education, etc.) or seem to have some experience that may be relevant (i. e. 2 years in marketing instead of 1 year in customer service).

A telephone interview is very much like a regular, face-to-face interview. An interviewer (an HR person, a supervisor, etc.) usually asks some standard questions about an applicant’s experience, motivation, and so on. It can be standard interview questions (like tell me about yourself) or a less formal situation.

Employers should do telephone interviews to:

  • Get an idea about a candidate’s telephone skills.
  • Talk to the candidate and see what he/she is like (mainly personality wise).
  • Ask some initial questions, cover some initial concerns, and so on.
  • As a cost effective way to talk to a lot of candidates and hopefully find some good ones.
  • Quickly eliminate bad candidates.
  • Plenty of other reasons.

Over the telephone, of course! Candidates should pick a quiet place that is distraction free to do a telephone interview. Have a copy of your resume, the company web site, and so on up on your computer so you can check facts and look up things quickly. Interviewers should also give phone interviews the proper attention (don’t be distracted, have a quiet room, etc.).

Interviewers should request a phone interview right after they see a resume that interests them. Candidates shouldn’t change too many things for a phone interview (they are usually very initial – don’t bet the farm on them), but should try to do it at the interview’s convenience if possible.


  • Employers: Start by asking some basic questions about their background and enthusiasm/attitude related to customer service. Listen carefully to their tone of voice, word selection, and what they are generally saying. You want someone who’s friendly, seems intelligent, and listens. If they interrupt you a lot or don’t listen to what you say, not a good sign.
  • Candidates: Listen to what the interviewer says and answer the questions. You can
    “pad” things to make them sound better, but don’t really change too much. Don’t interrupt and use your good customer service skills. Ask how they are doing, and all of that jazz.

Both parties: remember to follow up. Send a little thank you email or letter and thank the employer/candidate for their time and interest.

One Response to “Five W’s of Telephone Interviews in Customer Service”

  1. Lookup From Telephone said:

    Jul 23, 09 at 11:02 pm

    so cool, i was actually looking in google for Service Untitled» Blog Archive » Five W’s of Telephone Interviews in Customer Service and this popped up. wow! i put in lookup from telephone (just in case your wondering).. just bookmarked.