Telephone Interviews – the Pros and Cons

Interviews with creatively-led agencies tend to be very laid back and relaxed, and normally last no longer than an hour.  In this busy market, talented candidates don’t tend to stay in the job market for long and often have multiple job offers to consider. Personally I’m not a fan of telephone interviews at all, but they do have a number of pros and cons.


  • Mechanism to filter out unsuitable candidates
  • Get a good idea of how they handle competency-based questions
  • Good way to start the interview process, especially with someone based overseas


  • It can lengthen the interview process
  • A suitable candidate could be rejected for the wrong reasons (i.e. possible language barriers)
  • It’s hard for the interviewer to gauge over the phone whether the candidate has the right personality and chemistry for the agency and the team.  These are very important criteria for creative businesses.

Two of our clients have given us some feedback on the pros and cons of telephone interviews:

Client 1: Nicola Morgan of Collective London :

How do you feel about telephone interviews?

I’m not a fan of them. We much prefer to do interviews face-to-face, so that we can gauge an idea of what the person is like. Phone interviews are very impersonal and that’s not what we’re about.

Why would you do a telephone interview?

In the unusual event that we do a telephone interview, it would be because someone is overseas and can’t come into the office.

Do you prepare questions, or is it an off-the-cuff conversation?

I have questions prepared to start the conversation, and then see where these take us.

What percentage of people do you reject/put through to the next stage, roughly?

Not really relevant to us, as we don’t do many telephone interviews. During an in-house recruitment role I did about 5 years ago, this is how we recruited because the candidates were based overseas, so we would put through about 80% of the candidates we spoke to.

Any other thoughts on them?

Not a fan. I always, always, always want to interview face-to-face!

Client 2 Cristy Ball:

How do you feel about telephone interviews?

I prefer a face-to-face interview, but if it’s for a job that’s in a different location, then it’s a good idea to get a feel first before making the trip. Might be a good idea for freelance work though.

Do you feel they prove much?

Only for getting a general idea on the scope of work and company’s background, but not so much on whether it’ll be a good fit.

Have you had to do them as part of the interview process before?


Any other thoughts on them?

Wouldn’t rely solely on them personally, but it’s a good idea if there are any doubts that could be cleared – or confirmed – during a phone conversation.

Further reading on telephone interviews -