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How to Succeed in Your Next Phone Interview

As you know, the current job market is tight for job seekers. The companies have a distinct advantage in the hiring process because there are so many possible candidates for each job opening.

In the past, if you lived within driving distance of the company, you would get an in-person interview if they liked your resume. Today, phone screen interviews are much more commonly used to reduce the number of candidates for in-person interviews.

There are two types of phone interviews. The first kind is from a human resource (HR) person. The mission of HR is to screen-out candidates that don’t fit. The second is from a hiring manager who is looking to screen-in candidates that fit. HR will verify employment dates, education, income, why are you interviewing, etc.

If HR likes your answers, they will pass your resume to the hiring manager for review and a possible in-person interview or a second phone interview. The phone call from the hiring manager is different in respect to questions about your actual job skills, results, accomplishments, etc.

Hiring managers want to be sold that you are a match for the opening. One of our company’s slogans is "Never play poker with an HR manager" because even if they think you’re a perfect fit for the job, they rarely indicate that. The hiring manager is more likely to express positive interest and give you some buying signs.

Here are three tips to help you succeed in your next phone interview.

1. RESUME: Always have a copy of your resume in front of you during the interview. That will help you verify your work history dates and job titles. If you are fuzzy or hesitant on your background, the interview may be over before it even starts.

2. ENERGY: Always be more energetic than normal. Enthusiasm is the magic ingredient in all interviews. Your energy level is even more critical on the phone because you don’t have the benefit of eye contact and body language to help you communicate. During an in-person interview, body language is 65 percent of the communication. It’s difficult to see a smile by telephone! An employer will gauge your genuine interest in the company by your verbal energy and intensity.

3. CLOSE: You must ask for the order. At the end of the conversation, the employer may ask, "Do you have any final questions?" This is your opening to say, in your own words, "I want this job." You must tell the employer that you want to take the next step. "Is there anything standing in my way for an in-person interview?"

In conclusion, think of a phone interview as a pre-blind date conversation. Before you would go on a blind date, it would be nice to talk to the other person by phone to see if you have common interests. That way, if the phone call is a disaster, you can cancel the date. The company looks good to you. Your resume looks good to the company. The interest level is positive from both sides. The only way to see if there’s a match is to meet in person.

PLEASE NOTE: emails received become the property of "Dear Headhunter" and may be published unless otherwise requested. Questions may be edited for content and length. All questions will be reviewed, some without a reply.

George Gurney has been a leader in the employment industry since 1976. He founded an executive search firm that conducts domestic and international assignments.  He has won numerous awards for recruiting excellence.  He has been a guest speaker at national conventions and seminars.