Ace Your Phone Interview: 21 Quick & Simple Tips

Last Updated May 25, 2011 8:59 PM EDT

While some companies are scouting out potential candidates with Skype, the majority are still using phone interviews for preliminary screening. And you can start stacking the decks in your favor well before you say "hello" to your interviewer, according to experts.

"If you're given the choice between placing the interview phone call or receiving it, opt to receive. Having the interview place the call can foster a subtle sense in the interviewer that he/she is pursuing you, not the other way around," says Paul Bailo, MBA, MSW and author of The Essential Phone Interview Handbook.

Here are 20 other tips you'll want to have handy before your next potential job comes calling:

1. Get Dressed
Dress up like it is an in-person interview. It will help you focus and also give you a chance to make sure your suit still fits. -- Malcolm O. Munro, author of Marketing Yourself for Your Dream Job
2. Don't Get Iced
Have a glass of water. But skip the ice, which might be noisy. -- career coach Carol Finlayson
3. Stand Up And Smile
When you stand up, there is more energy to your voice and the physical act of smiling makes you instantly sound friendlier and relaxed. -- career trainer Frankie Picasso.

4. Be Succinct
If you're face-to-face, you can pick up on non-verbal cues from the interviewer about when to stop speaking. But you won't have this over the phone so you'll have to regulate yourself. -- English trainer Louisa Walsh, Phone English
5. Use Invisibility To Your Advantage
The lack of visual communication also offers some advantages for the job hunter. The interviewee can have information at his or her disposal. Internet windows can be open. The resume and cover letter can be up on the computer screen. Being connected in the phone interview is like having the ability to phone a friend. -- Eric Chen, MSM, MSAT, MBA, JD, professor of business administration at Saint Joseph College

6. Take Care With Your Tone
Don't end your sentences/statement on a higher voice than you started. You should do the opposite. End on a lower/deeper voice. You sound more sure of yourself. -- Jason Mudd, AXIA Public Relations
7. Pick A Quiet Place
Starbucks might be a great place to check your e-mail, but it's way too noisy to be conducting a phone interview. -- Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Human Resources Solutions
8. Set The Scene
Put the photo of the person with whom you are talking on your computer screen so you feel as if you are sitting face to face. -- behavioral psychologist Dr. Elliott B. Jaffa
9. Answer The Question Asked

It is an immediate red flag for us if a candidate strays off topic and does not answer the questions we ask. That tells us you don't know how or are unable to meet our hiring requirements. -- Sander Daniels, Co-Founder of Thumbtack.com.

10. Tell Them What You're Doing
Respond to your interviewer with comments like, "I'm nodding
 in agreement." Verbally telling interviewers of some of your non-verbal
 behavior is a good way to have them gain a better sense of your personality. -- Terry L. Wynne, Ed.S., LPC, The Professional Edge.

11. Don't Sound Sleepy
If your phone interview begins at 10 am, be up by 9! Don't have the 
"I just woke up voice." That is a real thing and people can tell! -- Daniel Wesley, Head of HR for www.creditloan.com
12. Be Crystal Clear
Complex thoughts or visions should be saved for a later date, once rapport has been established. If the interviewer does not understand what is being said or feels that the information being relayed is unnecessary, the outcome is unlikely to be positive. Check in with the interviewer by asking him or her whether things are clear. -- Lynda Zugec, The Workforce Consultants
13. Turn Off The Speakerphone
One of my clients was actually using a speakerphone until I pointed out how unprofessional and annoying this was to the listener! -- Kimberly Schneiderman, founder of City Career Services
14. Give Them A Visual, Too
Once the telephone interview is scheduled, the most creative candidates send links to their LinkedIn profiles. Prior to the interview, the hiring manager can review the profile, portfolio and references, reach out to common connections and review pictures and videos. By the start of the interview, the hiring manager has made a personal connection with the candidate and puts "a name with a face." -- Crystal L Kendrick,president of The Voice Of Your Customer
15. Harness The Power Of A Pause
After a question, wait a few seconds to show that you put thought into your answer. Keep your answers short, don't babble-- see whether or not you're getting a reaction or if the other person is just going 'Uh-huh, yeah... Susan Blond, president of Susan Blond Inc.
16. Leave Out...You Know...
Leave out You Know, Like, Umn, and And. It's like, you know, when speaking, you kind of, uhm, run into a brick wall, and like it's all over for the listener who turns off. -- Lillian S. Cauldwell Passionate World Radio, Inc.

17. Don't Drive & Interview
I've had candidates do this, and it comes across really badly -- because of safety, because it looks like they're not treating the conversation as a priority, and because they're denying themselves one of the greatest benefits of a phone interview: the ability to have notes in front of you! -- career coach Alison Green
18. Go Hands-Free
Use a headset if possible so that hands are free to take notes and gesture naturally. -- Ronald Kaufman author of Anatomy of Success.
19. Stay Focused
Without visual contact, it can be harder to stay engaged. Be sure you are somewhere where you can minimize distractions. Do not have a TV or music playing in the background. Tell yourself this is the best use of your next hour and give it your 100 percent attention. -- Lynne Sarikas, Executive Director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University

20. Test Your Reception
Call a friend or family member beforehand so they can tell you how your phone connection sounds. It really interrupts the flow of a conversation and undermines the professional impression you're trying to make if you're constantly having to ask, "Can you hear me now?" -- Tony O. Pham, Life360
Got any phone interview tips to add? Please sign in below and share them.
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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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