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Chances are, at some point in your job hunt, you’ll be required to do a phone interview. Why? It’s faster and cheaper for employers, and it allows them to screen more applicants in less time with fewer complications.

Phone interviews seem so much less formal—you can wear whatever you want! You can do it from home!—that it can be easy to fall into the trap of “phoning it in” or not really trying. Avoid that trap!

Your goal in a phone interview is to make it to the next level: the in-person interview. Here are 10 tips to help you reach that goal:

1. Remember, it’s a real interview. Some job seekers treat phone interviews like they’re casual get-to-know-you chats, but they’re usually step one of the narrowing-down process. If you want to make it to step two, put in as much effort as you would for an in-person interview.

2. Be prepared! Just like a face-to-face interview, you need to analyze the job description, research the company and practice your answers to likely questions.

3. Find somewhere quiet and private to take the call. Don’t do the interview in a public space with crowd noise, at home with barking dogs or shouting kids—or at work, if you’re currently employed!

4. Make sure you have a reliable phone connection. Experts used to advise against using a cell phone, because of the risk of the call being dropped, but these days most people don’t have a landline. Just make sure you’ll have good reception and clarity.

5. Pay attention to your tone of voice. Because you won’t have eye contact, facial expressions and body language to help convey your interest and enthusiasm, your tone of voice will be especially important. If you smile while you speak, it will show up in your voice. Standing up will remove pressure from your diaphragm and give your voice more resonance.

6. Be ready for common questions. Phone interviews are often used to ferret out basic incompatibilities quickly, such as your availability or your salary expectations.

7. Have your application materials handy. The interviewer will have your resume in front of her, and you should too. Tape your resume and any other notes to the wall so you can consult them without having to look down, which can muffle your voice.

8.  Remove distractions. Quit your email program, turn off instant messaging, and log out of any other programs that might attract your attention. This is not the time to multitask.

9. Remember that your interviewer can’t see you. If you pause to make a note, don’t just go silent. Say something like, “One second, please, while I write that down.”

10. Close the interview by trying to set up an in-person meeting. It’s that old sales technique of “asking for the sale.”

Hopefully, your next phone interview will be The One. But if not, call the hiring experts at Smith Hanley. We’re ready and able to coach you on resume preparation, interviewing and more!


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