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6 Ways to Ace the Phone Interview

The hiring process often moves at lightning speed, leaving hiring managers no time for casual phone calls. That makes the phone screen a serious first interview. If applicants don’t treat it as such, it could be “one and done.”

Here’s how to ace the phone interview.

Play the Part

When you pick up the phone, pretend you’re in a face-to-face interview. Even though you could be in your pajamas lounging on the couch, wear business attire and practice good posture. You can even sit in front of a mirror and watch yourself. Your professionalism will transmit through the phone.

Act Naturally

Some people come across as unenthusiastic over the phone because they can’t use body language to show who they are. Just because you’re on the phone doesn’t mean you need to be still and quiet. If you’re an animated talker in person, use your hands while speaking. Stand up if you feel more comfortable, and don’t forget to smile.

Stay out of Starbucks

Make sure you’re in a quiet spot to conduct the interview. If you’re on your cell, be sure to have good reception. If you’re on a landline, don’t do the dishes or check e-mail. Focus on the call and questions.

Get off the Computer

Have a hard copy of your resume in front of you. You may also want written copies of your questions and the research you did on the company. Paper documents may be “old school,” but clicking your keyboard during the interview will send a “not interested” signal. You may be checking the company’s service offerings, but your interviewer could think you’re updating your Facebook status.

Listen Up

Since you won’t have the advantage of reading the interviewer’s body language, your listening becomes paramount. Focus on the questions and make sure you understand them before you answer. You may also want to wait a beat after the interviewer speaks so you don’t interrupt.

Practice

Anticipate the questions you’ll be asked and rehearse your answers. If you’re usually chatty, practice curbing your responses. Typical phone interviews last 20 to 30 minutes. Use the time to impress the hiring manager with your skills, not talk about the weather.