Telephone Interview FAQs and Top Tips

Congratulations if you’ve made it through to the telephone interviews as part of the graduate recruitment process at Cancer Research UK. If you haven’t had a telephone interview before, and you’re looking for a bit of advice, we’ve pulled together some guidance about what you can expect and our top tips so you can succeed.


What types of questions will you ask?

They will mainly consist of competency style interview questions so prepare for them in the same way you would with a face-to-face interview. Use the STAR technique to structure your responses and deliver an answer that is concise yet contains sufficient level of detail around the actions you’ve taken. Focus on what you have achieved. Remember to say ‘I did…’ or ‘I was responsible for…’ After all, we’re looking to hire you, not the team you worked with on a project.

However, we also want to know what you think so some questions might be more theoretical. If we’re recruiting the sharpest minds in the graduate market we know you’ll have ideas about what we could be doing differently or better.

Will there be time for me to ask questions?

This is your first chance to interact with us so definitely use the opportunity to ask us questions to find out if this is the right role for you. There will be some time at the end of the interview for you to do this. A strong candidate will ask questions that are pertinent to the stream and what they’ll be doing in the role.

Is there anything in particular that you’re looking for?

The questions we’ll ask for our graduate scheme are focused around potential, including your desire to make an impact and provoke change, your adaptability, how you engage and influence others, your expansive thinking and your ability to handle complexity so prepare any examples that you have that can demonstrate these skills and behaviours.

Some Top Tips

Brush up on the charity and the role you applied to

It might have been a couple of months since you submitted your application so remind yourself about what you’ve already mentioned and be on top of key information about Cancer Research UK. If you have time, also do some market research. Look at other large charities, find out what they are doing and how we compare.

Keep it relevant

Use examples that are most relevant to the stream you’ve applied to. If you’ve applied for multiple streams, it’s likely that we’ll be asking similar questions across all streams but the same answer might not be relevant across both streams – work out a way to make it most relevant for each stream.

Think about how you answer the phone

This will be our first interaction with you and gives us an indication of how you would be operating in an office environment, talking on the phone to supporters or colleagues. It’s the easiest way to set a good impression.

Show your enthusiasm

Don’t let your nerves get the better of you – remember why you applied for this role in particular and why you want to work at Cancer Research UK. Highlight your genuine passion throughout your responses and you’ll come across as exactly the type of candidate we’re looking for - one with the motivation to add real value and make a difference both at CRUK and to the lives of others.

Try not to be nervous

We know it’s easier said than done but you’ve done amazingly well to get to this stage. You’re part of only 10% of candidates who made it to telephone interview. You’ve already done a great job at impressing us with your application – just keep it up!

"I would encourage interviewees to be themselves! Cancer Research UK employs a large variety of people with different skillsets, and it’s part of what makes us work together so well. It’s crucial that the prospective grads find a place to work that fulfils them, so being honest about what you can offer and what you’d like out of your career will ensure this."

Catherine, F&M Graduate