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Telephone Conversations

Having telephone conversations in a second language can be very stressful. If you don’t know what to say, it is very common to feel nervous in any conversation. This is true even when speaking in your native tongue.

Telephone Conversations


Having telephone conversations in a second language can be very stressful. If you don’t know what to say, it is very common to feel nervous in any conversation. This is true even when speaking in your native tongue. One of the main reasons people get nervous is because they aren’t prepared and know they might make mistakes during the conversation.


To improve confidence on the phone you must learn what to say. The first thing you should do to improve your telephone communication ability is to start out small by learning simple vocabulary and phrases. Start by knowing different greetings. It is so easy when learning English to try to do too much too soon and then get frustrated with not being able to speak as you had imagined. You have to start small, gradually developing skills and slowly working up to something more difficult.


Relax and enjoy yourself as well. Everyone knows learning a language can be frustrating!


Don’t worry if you make mistakes. Native speakers of English understand that you won’t say everything the exact same way that they would. You shouldn’t feel that you can’t make any mistakes, no one expects you to be perfect.


In the following examples on English telephone conversations, we will give many examples of sentences and phrases you should know. From the start until the end of a telephone conversation we will go over everything all the way from greetings to goodbyes.


Here are a few sets of Telephone Conversations. Read the conversations in each set so that you will become familiar with the typical words frequently used in telephone conversations. Only over the period of time and after more practice hours, you could master how to converse in telephone. You might have had many such telephone conversations either in your social life or in your business life. Share your blissful moments with us. You will be duly acknowledged.





Telephone Language


Here are some typical phrases that you can use in a telephone conversation.




Telephone Tips


            Speak slowly and clearly


Listening to someone speaking in a second language over the telephone can be very challenging because you cannot see the person you are trying to hear. However, it may be even more difficult for the person you are talking with to understand you. You may not realize that your pronunciation isn't clear because your teacher and fellow students know and understand you. Pay special attention to your weak areas (such as "r's" and "l's" or "b's" and "v's") when you are on the phone. If you are nervous about using the phone in English, you may notice yourself speaking very quickly. Practice or write down what you are going to say and take a few deep breaths before you make a phone call.


            Make sure you understand the other speaker


Don't pretend to understand everything you hear over the telephone. Even native speakers ask each other to repeat and confirm information from time to time. This is especially important if you are taking a message for someone else. Learn the appropriate expressions that English speakers use when they don't hear something properly. Don't be afraid to remind the person to slow down more than once. Keep your telephone in an area that is away from other noise distractions such as a radio or television.


            Practice with a friend


Ask another student to practice talking on the phone with you. You might choose one night a week and take turns phoning each other at a certain time. Try to talk for at least fifteen minutes. You can talk socially, or role play different scenarios in a business environment. If you don't have access to a telephone, you can practice by setting two chairs up back to back. The most important thing about practicing telephone English is that you aren't able to see each other's mouths. It is amazing how much people lip-read without realizing.


            Use businesses and recordings

There are many ways to get free telephone English practice. After business hours,




you can call and listen to recorded messages. Write down what you hear the first time, and then call back and check if your notes are accurate. Use the phone in your everyday life. Call for a pizza delivery instead of going out to eat. Call a salon to book a hair appointment. You can even phone the movie theatre to ask for the listings instead of using the newspaper. Some large cities have free recordings you can call for information such as your daily horoscope or the weather. (Make sure that you aren't going to get charged for these numbers first.) Some products have free phone numbers on the packaging that you can call for information. Think of a question you might want to ask and call the free number! For example, call the number on the back of the cereal box and ask for coupons. You will have to give your name and address. Make sure you have a pen handy so that you can repeat the information and check your comprehension.


            Learn telephone etiquette (manners)


The way that you speak to your best friend on the phone is very different to the way you should speak to someone in a business setting. Many ESL speakers make the mistake of being too direct on the telephone. It is possible that the person on the other line will think that you are being rude on purpose if you don't use formal language in certain situations. Sometimes just one word such as "could" or "may" is necessary in order to sound polite. You should use the same modals you would use in a formal "face-to-face" situation. Take the time to learn how to answer the phone and say goodbye in a polite manner, as well as all the various ways one can start and end a conversation casually.


            Practice dates and numbers


It only takes a short time to memorize English Phonetic Spelling, but it is something that you will be able to use in any country. You should also practice saying dates and numbers aloud. You and a friend can write out a list of dates and numbers and take turns reading them over the phone to each other. Record what you hear. Swap papers the next day and check your answers. Click here to learn more about numbers.


Mock Job Interview


Use this mock job interview to practice for the real thing. The more you practice the better prepared and more confident you will be for your interview. We have developed a realistic job interview role play for you to use with someone to play the role of the interviewer.


Key to a productive mock interview is constructive feedback. The feedback guide after each section ensures the feedback you receive is relevant and helpful.


Go through the mock interview questions and answers and be ready for your job interview.


        Have on hand for your mock interview


            your company research

            copies of your resume and cover letter

            a list of job references

            notebook and pen

            work samples if relevant


Know how to research the company before your interview.


Be ready with everything you might need with this interview checklist



2. Introduction


The interviewer introduces him or herself.


Feedback - Does the candidate


            use a firm handshake, make direct eye contact and smile

            use the interviewer's name in greeting eg. "I am pleased to meet you, Mrs Jones"

            wait to be asked to sit down

            puts documents on the table rather than on his or her lap

            place the handbag or briefcase at their feet


        Make small talk


The interviewer attempts to put the candidate at ease with some small talk such as "Did you find us easily?" or a comment about the weather.


Feedback - Does the candidate


            sit upright but not too stiffly in the chair

            lean forward very slightly to show interest

            answer these informal questions confidently

            Begin positively by not complaining about the journey or traffic

            thank the interviewer for the opportunity to discuss the job


        Discuss the company and position


After some small talk the interviewer begins by briefly discussing the company, the department and the position itself.


Feedback - Does the candidate


            listen attentively and not interrupt

            display appropriate, interested, body language


            use the opportunity at the end of this description to demonstrate their research on the company with a relevant comment such as "I was interested to read that you are opening 3 new branches this year"


        Ask common job interview questions


The interviewer asks standard job interview questions starting with these top 6 interview questions:




Get help with this standard part of the job interview at mock job interview questions and answers.


Use these free job descriptions to get a clear picture of the job you are interviewing for.


6. Ask Behavioral Interview Questions


The interviewer asks behavioral interview questions that explore the competencies or behaviors relevant to the job opportunity.


The most common competencies explored in a job interview include planning and organizing, problem-solving, work standards, team work and communication skills. These are the sample behavioral questions that assess these competencies.


"How have you established your work priorities in your previous job?"


"Tell me about a recent time you had to solve a difficult problem in your job"


"Describe a situation where you were not satisfied with your work performance. What did you do?"


"Describe a time when you contributed more than required to the team"


"Tell me about a difficult customer/colleague you had to deal with."



Feedback - Does the candidate


          understand the concept of behavioral interview questions


          provide a relevant and concise behavioral example quickly and clearly


          outline the steps the candidate personally took to reach a positive outcome


          provide a valid example that shows evidence of the required competency




You can find a complete guide to behavioral interview questions with sample behavioral answers at the behavioral interview guide



7. Ask some difficult interview questions


These will explore red flags in your resume such as gaps in employment, lay offs and dismissals.


Feedback -Does the candidate


            stay calm when answering tough interview questions

            use the right tone of voice and not get defensive

            give concise responses

            adequately explain to the interviewer about the problem area


Get help with answering difficult interview questions at job interview answers to tricky questions.


8. Ask the candidate if he or she has any questions



At this point the interviewer asks if you have any questions you want to ask.


Feedback - Does the candidate


            have about 5 good questions ready to ask

            not ask for information that has already been provided during the interview


            asks questions that show he or she has thought about the company and the job opportunity


            avoid the wrong type of questions such as those about benefits and salary


This list of the right job interview questions to ask will help you prepare for this part of the mock job interview.


9. Close the interview


The interviewer thanks the candidate and indicates what the next step in the hiring process is.


Feedback - Does the candidate


            make a positive closing statement like "I am excited about this opportunity and believe my experience and enthusiasm will add value to your company"


            ask the interviewer if there are any issues still to be addressed

            thank the interviewer for their time


Know how to close the job interview.


10. Provide general feedback for a mock job interview


Does the candidate


            use appropriate body language

            use proper verbal communication skills

            display enthusiasm for the job opportunity


Interview questions for specific jobs can be found at job interview guides


Improve your chances of success with a mock job interview. Keep practicing till you feel ready and confident of acing the actual interview!



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