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Top 10 Keys to Acing the Phone Screen

August 24, 2009

Interviewer: “We’re really impressed by your resume. Walk me through your background”
Job Applicant: “Honey, I’ll take out the trash later, I’m on the phone”

No, it’s not a scene from The Office. Nor is it a weird dream sequence from an old Woody Allen movie. This is real life—as heard from the interviewer’s side of the proverbial table.

Have to say, I just don’t get it. Why don’t people take phone interviews seriously? Do they really think I can’t hear them eating on the phone, giving directions in the car, typing at their keyboard? Don’t they realize that they won’t get a ‘real’ interview if they can’t make it through a phone one?

These days, more and more initial interviews are taking place by phone—and not taking it seriously can hold you back. So, here is Bonnie’s Top 10 Keys to Acing the Phone Screen. Use them and you’ll be the one called back for the next interview.

10. Be prepared. Yeah, you may not be a Boy Scout, but you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This is an interview—blow it and you won’t get the job.
9. Use a good phone connection. You may be perfect for the job but the interviewer won’t know it if s/he can’t hear you.
8. Stand up and smile. As I learned from a sales pro, “Motion brings Emotion.” And without face to face contact, you need that emotion even more.
7. Yes, it’s a real interview. Be prepared to answer real questions.
6. Yes, it’s a real interview. Be prepared to ASK perceptive questions.
5. Know how you come across on the phone. One trick is to call your own voice mail and leave yourself a message. Wait 24 hours and then listen to yourself. You’ll be amazed at what you hear.
4. No dogs, driving or other distractions!
3. Find the quietest spot possible—and use it for the phone call. And get there 5 minutes early, ready to talk.
2. Basic rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t do it during a face to face interview, don’t even think of doing it during a phone interview.
1. Have a winning story on tap to start the call—tell a story that will engage the listener, showcase your skills and let your personality shine.