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Tips for Terrific Telephone Interviews

Telephone interviews don't just happen; they are the result of action you have taken. For example, when you are networking and the company representative becomes interested in your skills; when a company representative calls you in response to a résumé you have sent; or when you have previously set up the telephone meeting. Your goal is to achieve a face-to-face meeting at the end of the call.

1. BE PREPARED! Keep your résumé, files, paper, and pen within easy reach of the telephone.

2. SMILE WHEN YOU ANSWER THE TELEPHONE and thank the person for calling. Ask, "Would you mind if I take a minute to close the door?" Use the time to close the door and pull out your résumé and files. Take a few deep breaths, relax and focus.

3. LISTEN TO THE WAY THE INTERVIEWER INTRODUCES HIM OR HERSELF. If she introduces herself as "Ms. Jones," call her Ms. Jones until she invites you to do otherwise.

4. STAY FOCUSED. This interview is your number-one priority at this time. As a result of this meeting, you want to be invited in for a face-to-face interview. If this is a previously scheduled interview, eliminate outside distractions prior to taking the call. If the interviewer has otherwise caught you at an inconvenient time, gently say so and ask to reschedule the interview for a more convenient time.

5. STAND IN FRONT OF A MIRROR, SMILE, AND SPEAK DIRECTLY INTO THE TELEPHONE. It adds life to your voice and you will come across more powerfully.

6. ALLOW THE INTERVIEWER TO ASK QUESTIONS. Answer the questions and ask some of your own. It is essential to ask open-ended questions that demonstrate your interest. Postpone any discussion of salary or benefits.

7. AVOID ANSWERING SIMPLY "YES" or NO." Respond to questions with specific examples of accomplishments that demonstrate your expertise and value to the company.

8. SUMMARIZE YOUR KEY POINTS and refer back to specific examples of your contributions. Take notes! This is one interview where it's okay to take notes.

9. CONFIRM YOUR INTEREST IN THE POSITION. "It sounds like an interesting opportunity Ms. Jones, and a situation where I could definitely make a contribution. When can we get together?"

10. WRITE AND SEND A THANK YOU LETTER WITHIN 24 HOURS. Before you hang up ask for the correct spelling of the interviewer's name and title. A thank you note is a second selling opportunity and can increase you chances of another interview by as much as 30%! Take the time to write one. You'll be glad you did!

Mary Jeanne Vincent is the author of Acing the Interview tip cards featuring answers to the top 20 "killer" interview questions. Also included are tips for interviewing in the new economy, ideas for responding to illegal and trick questions, and suggestions for avoiding 10 deadly interview mistakes.

Go to for free job search articles and to sign up for the free WorkWise e-zine. For information on individual job and career coaching or to find out about other practical, easy-to-use career tools call Mary Jeanne at 831.657.9151.

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