The Telephone Interview - Ten Tips for Making a Good Impression by Michelle Dumas

They liked the cover letter, they were impressed by your resume, but before you get that oh-so-coveted face-to-face meeting, you've still one more test to pass: the telephone interview. So making a good impression is paramount.

Telephone interviews present their own unique challenges; people act differently on the phone, your posture, facial expressions, clothing, etc. cannot be seen by the party on the other line so the tendency is to relax-become more informal. Sometimes, people are more difficult to understand over the telephone; so dialect, accent, local vernacular can work against you. Then there are outside factors like traffic noise, the clicking of a keyboard, and other voices. All of these elements can work against you when you're interviewing over the phone. So before you begin, take note of these ten tips for making a great impression:

1. In the days before the interview, formulate questions and make a list. Then, during the interview, keep them in front of you. As you address each one, tick it off your list. Add new questions as they occur.

2. Gather your resume and other documents so that you can refer to them during the interview. Highlighting key information and dates may also help-we know you've seen your own resume 100 times, but nerves can make even the best of us become flustered. So make it as easy for yourself as you can.

3. Go to the toilet before the interview begins. The call of nature is the last thing you want to be thinking about during this crucial conversation.

4. Hold the interview in a quiet place where you won't be disturbed; preferably one with a table at which you can sit and take notes. Background noises and interruptions can be both distracting and leave a bad impression with the interviewer. Never hold a telephone interview outside where wind and traffic noise can interfere; and avoid holding it during working hours unless you can ensure quiet and uninterrupted time.

5. Take notes. Note-taking serves two purposes; it keeps you on track with the conversation and provides information which will help you strengthen your face-to-face interview. Take the notes by hand; don't be tempted to use the keyboard-the sound of keys clacking can be distracting.

6. Listen carefully and speak clearly. Keep your responses concise, don't ramble, and avoid using local vernacular or slang. Say something once; avoid repeating yourself. Don't interrupt the interviewer and don't feel rushed to fill pauses with sound. If you need a moment to think out your response, say so and then be quiet. Avoid making "thinking" noises.

7. Smile when you speak. Even though they can't see you, the interviewer will perceive you in a better light if you are smiling while you talk.

8. Maintain a professional attitude. It is easy to slip into casual conversation mode when you're on the telephone, but don't be tempted. A telephone interview should be held with the same level of professionalism as a face-to-face interview. This is not a friendly chat; this is an audition.

9. Stay aware of the time; don't let this be the telephone interview that never ends. When you're done, establish what will happen next and thank your interviewer by name.

10. If you forget something, don't phone back. It may be tempting, but it's usually not a good idea. The best thing to do is to make a note of what you've forgotten so that you can address it if/when you get that face-to-face interview or in the follow-up thank you note that you send to the interviewer (always send a thank you note within the next 24 hours after your telephone interview).

A telephone interview is the last stepping stone between you and that coveted face-to-face where we know you will shine. By using these 10 tips, you are armed and ready to make a great impression.

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