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Tips for a Successful Phone Interview

Phone interviews can be nerve-racking, especially for those who excel in face-to-face conversations. With these types of interviews, you must really focus on verbal cues from the interviewer to determine whether or not he or she is engaged with you.

The following tips will help you overcome your fears and will help you prepare for a successful phone interview.

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

The last thing that you want to do is be unprepared for the phone interview. Put together a list of common interview questions, as well as your answers to these questions. Make sure to do this sooner than later so you have time to become the "master of yourself."

Some common questions and statements that you should already know the answers to, include:

  1. Tell me about yourself. (This should be a 1-2 minute summary of your key accomplishments in your professional career/student career)
  2. What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?
  3. How would you rate your experience with _______(look for the "required knowledge/experience" portion of the job description)_______?
  4. Why are you leaving your current company? Or, why did you leave your last company?

We strongly encourage that you write out the answers to everything listed above and start reading your answers out loud. Practice reading the answers out loud until you memorize them. Be sure to not sound rehearsed.

Don't forget to print out a copy of your resume and your answers to the interview questions so you can refer back to them during the interview. Again, do not sound like your answers are rehearsed!

Tip: We typically recommend that job seekers do not pick up the INITIAL phone call they receive from companies. For example, let's say that you applied for a position at ACME Corporation. A few days later, you see a phone call on your caller id from ACME Corporation. We suggest that you do not pick that call up.

Here's why: If you pick it up at bad time, it will be hard for you to get into the interview mindset. By calling the person back within a reasonable time frame (1-3 hours), you give yourself more time to prepare mentally, which is key for a successful interview.

Identify Your Comfort Zone.

You want to have your phone interview at a comfortable location. Whether it's at your house, your friend's house or in an office, be sure that the place is free from noises and distractions.

Fix Your Phone.

Before the interview, be sure to disable call waiting. While you're at it, unplug phones around your immediate area. There's nothing more unsettling than having another phone ring when you're interviewing.

If your phone has speakerphone option, and it works well, use it! You should spend your time focused on the interview and not on holding the phone up with your hand or shoulder.

Stand Up and Smile.

During the interview, try to stand up when you speak. Your voice will sound more authoritative. Also, try to smile from time to time when you're talking on the phone. Interviewers can tell if you're happy to speak to them or not.

Next Steps.

Before you say good-bye, ask the interviewer what the next steps are in the interview process. It's also a good time to ask him or her for an e-mail address so you can send a thank you letter.

Resume, interview and other career-related articles written by Tony Lim of Empowering Job Seekers.

Resume, interview and other career-related articles written by Tony Lim of Empowering Job Seekers.