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Tips on Telephone Interviewing

by Nancy Peterson

It is common these days for employers to begin with a broader selection of candidates based upon their resumes and employ the first round of interviews via telephone. Quite often the job seeker is excited to have caught the recruiter's attention but is a bit unsettled by the prospects of a telephone interview. Is it possible to dazzle and connect with the interviewer during a telephone interview? You bet!

First recognize that you have piqued their interest with your resume. If you are truly interested in the job opportunity, then you will prepare for the telephone interview with the same rigor and enthusiasm that you would for a face-to-face interview. Do your research on the company and relate your knowledge to the position. Develop insightful questions to ask the interviewer that will be appropriate for a first interview. Having good questions to ask in the telephone interview is as important as in an on-site interview. It shows a high level of interest, an ability to understand the business and what might be expected of you in the position. Finally, practice responding to likely interview questions. It is important to formulate complete, but concise, answers.

Next, be ready at the scheduled time for the interview. If you need to go to a place that is quiet and where you will not be interrupted, be sure to do so with plenty of lead-time. If you will be using a cellular telephone, test the signal strength from where you will be talking. You don't want to be rushed and you don't want to sound as though you have been rushed. You want to sound relaxed but energetic, confident and prepared.

Spend time preparing your telephone equipment properly. If you are using a portable or cellular telephone, make sure that the batteries have been adequately charged in advance.

Limit distractions during the telephone interview. Minimize interruptions from children, pets, and outside noises. Be sure not to eat, chew gum, smoke or even tap a pencil during the interview as these can distract the interviewer and seem unprofessional. It is perfectly acceptable to keep water, coffee or a beverage available to quietly sip, if needed.

Finally, as with any interview, be sure to express enthusiasm for the company and the job and to inquire about the next step in the process. Thank the interviewer for his or her time and exit the call courteously and professionally. Remember that a successful telephone interview can get you to the in-person interview and is an important screening for the position that you want. Pay attention to all the details and good luck.