HOW TO: Impress in a Telephone IntervieW, by enterprise rent-a-car

For starters, congratulations – if you’ve been invited to a telephone interview it means you’ve passed the first hurdle. As a candidate, your success relies on the ability to do whatever you can to differentiate yourself from the competition. Whether you then progress from the telephone interview to a face-to-face interview can be determined by the finest of margins, so getting it right, first time, is really important. Using our experience and candidate feedback, we have compiled some really useful tips to help you impress the recruiter that will be interviewing you over the phone. This is your time to shine.


This might seem fairly obvious, but surprisingly the majority of people that take part in a telephone interview either forget or ignore the fundamentals - for many different reasons. Like everything else in life, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. As a graduate you simply cannot rely on your prior working experiences alone (if you have any), so confidence, persuasion and influence are really crucial.

Here are some key tips that will help you prepare for the best:

·         Research the company, founding values and history.

·         Understand your experiences – have examples of transferable skills acquired for each. Think about how these will relate to the role. What soft and hard skills can you demonstrate?

·         Think about why you are interested in the position you have applied for.

·         Have questions of your own to ask the recruiter interviewing you.

It pays to get familiar with the STAR based competency model. By using this step-by-step method, your answers will be more fluid, consistent and to the point - providing clarity to your answers.


If it’s your first telephone interview it will feel strange. The good news is that preparation always pays off, and one of the main advantages of telephone interviews is that you can use notes. Keep an up-to-date CV in front of you and be prepared to be questioned about each working experience. Make sure that you have to hand all the notes that you’ve collected while doing the research on the company you’re interviewing for.

But be careful, notes are useful, but try not to sound like you are reading from them. This might affect the clarity of your message and the outcome of the interview. Consider wearing a pair of headphones with a microphone, or even a headset if you have one, as this will save some embarrassing pauses while you flick through your notes and balance the phone at the same time.

Slow Down

The majority of people are startled by how quickly they talk. This is really important in any interview setting as the interviewer will probably be taking notes of what you’re saying. Have you thought about recording yourself having a conversation with a friend or colleague and listening back to it? Try cutting down the use of verbal crutches when speaking as best as possible. Slowing down will certainly help.

Use the landline phone

Yes, that’s right – a ‘landline telephone’.  Whilst the technology and the quality of our mobile phones are always improving, landlines still lead the way when it comes to reliability. This is particularly the case in ‘dead-zones’ where the signal may drop.

Appropriate surroundings

Think ahead. Where will you be when you’re scheduled to take the interviewer’s call? Hopefully you’ll be in a quiet room where you can relax and concentrate properly. Not the gym or the local coffee shop! Even more importantly, make sure that you will not be interrupted during your call. Make sure that you let those around you know of your interview and that you shouldn’t be disturbed.

 Answer and end the call professionally

Hello, Martin / Olivia speaking. The interview might take place over the phone, but try and picture the interviewer in front of you – how would you behave then? It helps to stand up while you are on the phone. This will help you to project your voice and sound enthusiastic. Once the call has ended, ensure you have expressed interest in the position. Thank the recruiter for devoting their time to interview you and always follow up with an email.


The first step to starting a new career is finding a job that you’d love to do. Have a look at our latest opportunities including internships as well as positions on graduate management programme. We look forward to being impressed by your interview preparation!

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HOW TO: Assessment Centres Guide by Tesco

How do I prepare?

-          Check the brief; Triple check the brief from the company inviting you to the assessment centre. Ensure you know exactly what is expected of you, you may need to prepare a document in advance. The brief may also give you hints on what they’re looking for, such as ‘creative’ or ‘analytical’ presentation.

-          Research Core Values and Skills; At Tesco we have 5 key leadership skills that align with our core values which can be found here. It’s likely that interview questions and group exercises will require examples of how you displayed these core values to show you’re the right person for the company.

-          Make the most of LinkedIn; LinkedIn can be used to research the company and find out the latest about their performance but also to find out about those running the assessment centres. Some of them may work within the function you’re applying for, and you could find common ground in your experiences.

What can I expect?

Every assessment centre is different but the day is likely to involve at least one if not all of the following parts:

-          Interview; Prepare answers for why you want to work for the company and the specific function. Here at Tesco, we have a wide range of graduate schemes and summer internships and we’re not expecting the same answer from all of our candidates! Another top tip is to prepare a question for the interviewer that is open ended and invites conversation. This can help to show your authenticity and a great opportunity to hear more about the company from an insider.

-          Presentation; You are likely to be asked to display your presentation skills throughout the day whether its prepared or improvised. Speaking louder than you might usually can help you to feel confident. Try to be open-minded when your points are challenged and incorporate their feedback in a positive manner.

-          Group exercise; Group exercises are all about being balanced.  The loudest person in the room rarely gets selected.  Equally, if you say nothing – we can’t score you!  There are subtle tips you can use to play an active role in a group discussion, without overpowering the conversation: regular time checks, encouraging less vocal members for their opinion and summarising the main points of the discussion.

Any extra tips for the day?

-          Set your mood; The important thing is to be yourself. A positive outlook on all tasks will help throughout the day. You want to show the best version of yourself, and give the assessors something impressive to remember about you!

-          Ask questions; The whole day is a two way process – it’s as much about you learning about the company, as it is for them to learn about you. Ask questions about topics you want to know more about and what really matters to you. For example, what is the culture of the business? Are there opportunities to get involved in societies? Assessment Centres are a chance for you to get a real feel for the company through their representative colleagues.

You can find out more about Tesco and our Early Careers opportunities here. If you are looking for further tips and insights feel free to contact the Enactus Team at Tesco by emailing


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1.    Plan Ahead: Don’t just cram all of your revision into the day before you want to take the test, plan ahead! You may have to repeat the tests at your assessment centre, so make sure you actually understand the material rather than just learning to a test. Split your time based on your strengths in each area, but don’t neglect the one you think you can do... refresh your knowledge and test yourself! And don’t forget the personality tests as even these could be revised for by referring to Centrica’s values!

2.    Bitesize is your BEST Friend! The tests go up to about GCSE level in terms of skill.... but as your GCSEs were at least 4 years ago, you have probably forgotten things! Rather than convincing yourself you remember, swot up and focus on the areas you struggle with in an easy and fun way! BBC Bitesize also often has tests at the end of each section so you can make sure you definitely understand the concept before moving on. As a final top tip, make sure you cover converting percentages and fractions, and percentage increases and decreases too as these often come up!

3.    Think about the test packages available. The style of the tests within Centrica are very scenario based, so make sure you get use to that before you take the real thing! Many alumni used, although this does have a cost per subject. Just remember that the cost of the package will be small compared to the gain from securing the graduate job of your dreams. You can probably also use the packages to practice for other schemes as well – and as soon as you get the job of your dreams the cost won’t matter too much. 

4.    Practise, practise, practise! I know it sounds obvious but the psychometric tests are where the most candidates fail and are eliminated from the process; they are hard for a reason. Remember you are investing in your future so an extra day’s revision before you take them could make all of the difference!

5.    Remember you can do it! You are already incredible. You work/run a project that is changing people’s lives. A few tests shouldn’t be a problem as long as you commit to putting some time in and working on your weaker areas! They do need to eliminate some people though so work hard but don’t be disheartened if it’s you!

Find out more about Centrica and our Graduate and Undergraduate programmes here. If you are looking for further tips and insights feel free to contact the Centrica Enactus Partnership team  at 

ASDA - Jess McLennan on the Asda Graduate Scheme

Jess McLennan is currently the youngest Asda Store Manager in the country, aged 21 years. She was promoted to Store Manager within six months of joining the Asda Graduate scheme.  Jess oversees the running of the store and looks after 94 colleagues. She is passionate about retail and showing other young people the breadth of opportunity in the sector and at Asda.


The Asda Graduate Scheme

Jess started on the Graduate scheme in September 2014 along with nine other successful candidates who were selected from thousands of applicants. The two year scheme offers candidates in-depth training at the Asda Academy on all aspects of retail from accounts to legal issues, leadership, people management and technical training.

On completing the initial training, Jess took up the role of Fresh Section Manager at Asda in London.   She was promoted to Deputy Manager after just a few months and within weeks was noticed for her talents and promoted to Store Manager!


What Jess had to say..

“I can’t recommend the retail graduate scheme at Asda enough. On top of training you also get a firsthand on-the-job experience in a variety of stores. It’s this practical experience that has fast-tracked me into management at such a young age and testimony that Asda is keen to recognise and encourage potential”. 

“People my age often have a narrow view of retail and only see it as an option when you ‘can’t do anything else’. This just isn’t the case. Retail is a fast-paced and dynamic industry with a wide variety of roles to choose from. My advice to candidates applying to the Asda Graduate scheme is to make sure you have a good knowledge of the retail sector and to be prepared to show your dedication and drive for business. The top three qualities I think you need to succeed in retail are: first class communication skills, dedication and a genuine passion for the job”.

“The training is top notch and so are the people and connections you make. As part of the scheme I got to meet Andy Clarke our and sit on his dinner table at the Golden Quarter Conference – it was such an honour to meet the CEO and talk to him about my experience and my aspirations for the future. ” 

Find our more about Asda's graduate opportunities at:

Enterprise-Rent-A-Car - How to use ENACTUS effectively in the interview process

From working closely with ENACTUS as both a BAB advisor and now CRE mentor it is clear to see that students are tremendously hard working, have a strong competitive spirit and see the bigger picture with the aspiration to give something back to society. These unique developed skills can help to elevate you in the increasingly competitive job market, here is how:

Online Application:

Employers are increasingly focused on extracurricular activities whilst you are studying at University. Why? Because it demonstrates ability to multi task, be committed, as well as self-motivated to personal development. Please remember, that not all organizations are aware of ENACTUS so a brief description is advisable, along with key responsibilities and achievements obtained, and why ENACTUS is important to you. There is often a section to list extracurricular activities, if not see how you can work ENACTUS in with examples of key competencies (Teamwork/Leadership/Communication).


As graduate recruiters we are increasingly focused on students who can demonstrate leadership and effective teamwork skills. Whether you have been a project leader, are part of the executive committee, or have ownership for part of a project, these are unique examples of how you can show ownership, as well as worked in a project team. Consider how you delegate responsibilities, follow up and measure success. These are all key indicators for future internship and graduate opportunities. Interview stage is a great opportunity to demonstrate how you are able to juggle University studies with an ongoing society commitment. Do not be afraid to include the number of hours you commit to ENACTUS to provide context, graduate recruiters highlight a strong work ethic as a key differentiator.


ENACTUS is a key tool to differentiate yourself in the recruitment process. It is fundamental you are able to sell ENACTUS concisely as well as being able to demonstrate how you personally have made a difference.