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  • Writer's pictureLayne Daniels

The Dos and Don’ts of Phone Interviews

Ready for your phone interview? Find out the 411 before you say, “hello.”

Nowadays it’s pretty common to have a phone interview before an in-person interview. Why? Employers like to get an initial feel for you, before committing the time and energy into a full-blown interview. They will likely have a few straightforward questions to make sure you meet their basic requirements. This usually happens with the hiring manager or a recruiter. Then, your potential manager, some execs, and possibly other team members will want to meet you face-to-face if, and only if, you fit the bill.

Phone interviews are usually quick, and relatively painless, but there are a few things to remember before answering that call. Here are some basic dos and don’ts:

DO: Answer with a smile Sound strange? It’s a fact that people can tell if someone is smiling on the other end of the phone. Even though you aren’t in front of someone, be cheerful, warm, and friendly, and let your personality shine through.

DO: Be honest The hiring manager really wants to know if you are a match for the company’s needs. Be totally candid about what you are looking for, and whether your skills translate well to this position.

DO: Have your resume handy We can all get a little tongue-tied from time to time. Have a resume in front of you, so you can breeze through your background and qualifications, and don’t forget any of the important points you want to make.

DO: Research So you sent out 8,000 resumes…which company is this again? Make sure you do your research about the company, and re-read the job posting to find out why you applied in the first place.

DO: Ask questions You don’t need to get too crazy here, but it’s always goo to ask a few key questions: What would a typical day look like? Who would you report to? What are you looking for in terms of hours?

DO: Be courteous Please and thank you may seem like no-brainers, but you’d be surprised. Make sure to be polite and totally gracious of this person’s time—whether you liked what you heard or not.

DO: Follow up Just because this interview was a bit more casual, don’t underestimate the power of a follow-up thank-you note. Just shoot over a quick email, and he or she is sure to keep you top-of-mind when recommending you for the job.

DO: Take notes If you are on the job hunt you may have multiple job interviews lined up (hopefully!). Make sure you take notes, so you can stay organized, and assess whether you want to take the time for an in-person meeting, should they request one.

DO: Dress for the job This one may seem strange, but if you dress professionally, you are more likely to act professionally. Even though you’re possibly at home, get yourself together so you feel more confident and qualified.

DON'T: Be distracted Make sure you are in the comforts of your home, or office, or even the car, in a quiet location. Turn the TV or music off, get the kids squared away, send other calls to voicemail, do whatever you need to do to make sure you are focused, and your attention is undivided.

DON'T: Chew gum, eat, or drink Literally no one likes someone chomping or slurping away in his or her ear. Keep any food out of reach, so you’re not tempted to take a nibble. You can have some water on-hand, just in case you have to clear your throat. Do not chew gum either—popping, chewing, or snapping sounds are distracting and unprofessional.

DON'T: Ask who they are Again, with the hundreds of resumes you sent out, you might not be entirely clear who is calling you. Don’t seem caught off guard or confused, or ask who they are. This goes along with the "do your research" rule.

DON'T: Give one-word answers Even though this is just the initial stage of the interview process, make sure you are engaging—offer some interesting points about your background and how you can really relate to this position.

DON'T: Be shy Speak up! Since you are on the phone you must speak clearly and confidently. Elaborate your points and give this person a glimpse into your personality, even though he or she can’t see you.

DON'T: Put them on-hold If something comes up that distracts you, do not put this person on-hold. Make sure this call is given priority over anything else, and that he or she gets the impression that this job is important to you.

DON'T: Miss the call Make sure you are available and ready at the designated call time. Even if the interviewer is running late, be on stand-by for that call. Although phone interviews seem more casual than in-person meetings, they are just as important. Give this phone conversation your all, and you are likely to be suiting up for a second interview in no time.

-- Want to love Mondays? It’s possible when you love what you do. Paradigm is a San Diego staffing agency dedicated to finding the perfect job for candidates like you. We’re connected with some of the most innovative tech companies around, giving our employees that competitive edge needed in today’s job market. We hope to hear from you today, and let's make your career goals happen.

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