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Phone Interview Advice

Posted Monday, October 17, 2011, at 7:49 PM

Phone Interview Tips

If you're looking for a job, you may be contacted by a business that wants to do an initial interview over the phone. This is extremely common in jobs that require excellent phone skills and is frequently used a tool to weed out applicants that do not possess them. Sometimes a company may use a phone interview as a stepping stone and will then schedule a more traditional, in-person interview at a later date. No matter the purpose of the interview, you will want to make the best possible impression. Here are some tips to help make sure your name stays on the list of candidates.

Control the background noise level. Before your interview, make sure you have alternate childcare set up and that your pets are silent. If possible, take the call on a land-line phone so that a fading signal doesn't interrupt either party. Whatever you do, do not have your phone interview while driving or standing outside. The background noise will make it immediately obvious that you did not prepare for the conversation and aren't taking it seriously.

Remember your manners. Do not interrupt the other person or rush them off the phone. Do not place them on hold without first asking for and receiving their consent. If you sneeze or cough, excuse yourself. The way that you speak to the interviewer is how they will expect you to speak to their clients and other employees, so it pays to come off as respectful and considerate.

Be prepared. Unless you are called out of the blue and subjected to an impromptu phone interview, you had advanced notice. Use that time to think up some thought-provoking questions concerning the company, its performance, or the responsibilities of the job. Now is not the time to open salary negotiations or question any negative press you've uncovered on the web. Keep it light, informational, honest, and pleasant.

Take notes. Do not make the interviewer answer the same question twice! You should have a pen and tablet available to take down pertinent details, such as the dates of upcoming training classes or the certifications required for the position. This will allow you to stay organized and focused without fretting over forgotten details.

Ask for the next step. Once the interview is nearing its end, don't be afraid to ask for the next step in the hiring process. Asking for an in-person interview or inquiring when you might hear about a decision shows that you are serious about the opportunity. It will also save the interviewer from being forced to call you back. You want to make hiring you easy, so ask what you can do to keep the process focused and simple.

Send a thank you note. Whether it's a quick email or a hand-written note, thanking your interviewer for their time shows that you are a respectful, thoughtful individual. If your interview didn't go so well or your qualifications are sub-par, it could also prove you are serious about success and lend a more favorable flavor to the interaction.

A phone interview can seem nerve-wracking, but these tips can help you make a favorable impression. You never get a second chance to make a first introduction, so an impressive phone conversation can go a long way towards netting you the job of your dreams.

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I am a masters level career counselor. I am internationally certified as a Career Management Practitioner (CMP) by the Institute for Career Certification International and have been recognized as a National Certified Counselor (NCC) through the National Board for Certified Counselors.
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