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Telephone interviews are more popular than ever with our client companies. The benefits for the employer are an efficient and cost-effective method of screening candidates. These interviews can be conducted any time of day, across different U.S. time zones. Usually, an assistant will log the call time directly in to the manager’s computerized day planner. Many times, it is arranged for the candidate to place the call. Therefore, it is the candidate’s responsibly to make contact on time.

The reality of the phone interview process is that it is primarily a screening interview. It has evolved into a very important first step on the road to a job offer. You must be prepared and ready to convince the employer that you are qualified for an in-person interview. The phone interview can make or break your candidacy and must always be taken seriously. It is not a courtesy call to see if you’re interested.

Before you sit down for your next telephone interview, there are some basic preparation steps needed to insure a successful interview. Here are a few guidelines to follow.

Have your resume in front of you to use as an answer guide for questions about companies, education and dates. If you are using multiple resumes, be sure you are looking at the same resume that was sent to the employer.

Prepare a list of questions to mix in with your dialogue. Don’t save your questions for the end of the call. If you rattle off your list at the very end, the employer may feel that you are interviewing them. At this early stage that’s counter-productive. Remember - they are screening you.

Do everything possible to talk on a land phone line. Using a cell phone can be disastrous. Calls can be dropped and reception can fade in and out. People also have a tendency to talk much louder than normal on cell phones.

If at home, try to isolate yourself in a room without kids, pets, or family. Ordinary distractions can cause you to loose focus and can cause the interview to collar. If at work, arrange for a secure conference room.

Disable the call-waiting feature on your telephone. Any beeping from an incoming call can distract you. You must not be interrupted and be able to focus 100 prcent on the conversation. Disable caller I.D. if you are to receive the call. Shut off your answering machine because it may kick in without notice. Never put the employer on hold.

Put a mirror in front of you. Smile into the mirror. Can you hear a smile? I can! This will help you be upbeat and positive in your speech. Your smile is energy that can be transmitted verbally.

RECAP: Phone interviews can be an intimidating first step. Are you nervous? Not sure how to make it happen for you? Being prepared and ready to present yourself effectively will give you the confidence to get the in-person interview.

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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.