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A phone interview can be difficult, but it’s easier with a little preparation and practice. For many positions, especially contract positions, hiring decisions are made after one phone interview. YES, after only one telephone interview!! This means you only have one shot to make a great first impression and you won’t be able to rely on your charming smile or sparkling eyes. You have to sell yourself over the telephone in one conversation.

Below are some tips that can help ensure you nail your telephone interview.

Research before your phone interview.

Know basic details about the company, job requirements, and hiring manager/interviewer(s) before your phone interview. Ask questions that you can’t find on the company website.

Have your resume in front of you.

Read your resume before the interview and make sure you can provide examples that support what you have written on the resume. One of the surest ways to blow an interview is for the interviewer to ask you a question about your resume and you have NO IDEA what they are referring to. If you are working with a recruiter, make sure to get a copy of the resume he/she sent to the manager if they made any changes to your original resume.

Speak clearly and sit up straight.

Avoid mumbling, speed talking, slang, and improper grammar. Sitting up straight helps you articulate your speech and reduce mumbling, so even though you are interviewing via phone, posture matters!

Answer the question.

Make sure your responses actually answer the questions asked. In most cases, less is more, so avoid a rant. If the interviewer wants additional details, he/she will ask for them. However, if you ramble for 20 minutes, the interviewer may just stop listening! It is especially critical to be mindful of this in a phone interview where you won’t have the interviewer’s body language available to queue you in if this is happening!

Be ready at least 15 minutes early. 

Be available, with your phone, at least 15 minutes before the interview is scheduled to start. Make sure your phone is charged and use a landline if available. If you have to use a cell phone, make sure you are in an area with good cell reception.

Avoid phone interview distractions. 

Find a quiet place to take the call. Too much background noise can make it hard for the interviewer to understand you. Even though it’s a phone interview, dedicate the time to the interview and only the interview. Don’t wash dishes, use the restroom, fold laundry, check your email, etc.  During the interview, only focus on the interview just as you would do in an in-person interview.

Prepare your answers.

Practice answers to the most common interview questions (sample questions). There is no excuse to be caught off guard with any of these questions. Everyone knows these are the types of questions many interviewers ask, so BE PREPARED.

Express interest. 

Don’t hang up the phone without expressing your interest in the job. This can be uncomfortable, so practice it ahead of time. Your expression of interest does not have to be a super aggressive sales-close, but should be sincere and clear!

Do not put the interviewer on hold.

Unless there is a significant emergency, it is not appropriate to put the interviewer on hold or take another call during the interview. It is sad that this even needs to be a point of discussion in this article. But it happens!