Heard, not seen

Phone interviews require tact, preparation

Posted: Sunday, February 12, 2006

Participating in an interview over the phone is an entirely different beast than a face-to-face encounter; what you say and how you say it become even more important. With that in mind, here are some quick tips for mastering the phone interview:

First things first - shut down your computer and turn off your cell phone. You shouldn't have any distractions.

"Pay complete, total and full attention to the person on the other end of the line as if you were staring them in the eye," says Karen Friedman, a communications coach in Blue Bell, Pa. "People can read and feel your body language across the miles, so, act as if they were in the room with you so they can feel your energy, presence and attention."

April Callis, author of "Springboard to Success" (Springboard, $19.95) claims that standing up while you participate in the interview will help you stay focused.

"It will give you more energy in your voice if you stand," says Callis. "Also, smile while you talk so that you sound friendly and enthused."

Since you're on the phone, you'll need to speak as clearly as possible.

"Pronounce your words clearly and don't trail off at the end of a sentence," says Friedman. "You want to make sure you are heard and understood. Additionally, pause to give the person on the other end of the line a chance to digest what you are saying and to participate in the conversation."

Since the telephone interview is most commonly a screening, you'll need to go the extra mile to connect with the interviewer. In order to do this, be sure to decide in advance which questions you might ask when prompted by your interviewer.

"Think about what you want the other person to know so you don't spend the entire interview simply answering questions," says Friedman. "By only answering questions, you miss opportunities to deliver key points if the other person on the other end of the phone doesn't ask you a question to trigger one of these points."

Callis adds that you should be sure to tell them you are looking forward to meeting them.

"They are trying to screen you out so don't give them a reason to put you in the 'no' pile," she says. "Stay upbeat, positive and attentive."

- Rob Kallick



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