So we ended the first blog post in this series by stating that our journey can truly begin, but now we’re already taking a small step backward.  How funny is that? More funny than not even making it to the face-to-face interview because you didn’t pass muster during the phone interview . . . which is why we’re taking this small but important detour.

In our previous blog post, we revealed the one thing you should know about the face-to-face interview.  Well, here’s the one thing you should know about the phone interview: your objective is to gain an invitation for a personal interview and to gather more information to use in future steps.

So to recap:

  1. The objective of the phone interview is to secure a face-to-face interview.
  2. The objective of the face-to-face interview is to secure an offer of employment (that you may or may not accept).

Now that we have that straight, below are some tips for making sure you nail the phone interview and proceed to the next stage of the process:

  • Try to use a quiet room or office.  If necessary, ask if you can call the interviewer back at a more convenient time. Avoid background noise like TVs, stereos, and other conversations, and also avoid mobile phones due to potentially poor reception.
  • Have a pad, pen, and copy of your resume nearby.
  • Hold the receiver one-half inch from your lips and speak directly into it.
  • Be sure to get the caller’s name and position with the employer.  Repeat it to them and write it down.
  • Do not eat, smoke, or chew gum during the phone conversation.
  • Speak in a conversational manner and be sure to speak loudly enough to be heard—with some variance in tone and inflection.  Tape record yourself responding to some normal phone interview questions asked by your spouse or someone else.  Hear how you sound to others and practice improving that impression.
  • Smile and be enthusiastic.  It’s true that you can hear a smile over the phone.
  • Let the interviewer do most of the talking, but use questions to stimulate the conversation as needed.  When they ask you a question, don’t just answer “Yes” or “No”—expound upon the question and use this as an opportunity to “sell” your skills and experience.
  • Do NOT discuss money, benefits, or vacation time at this stage of the game.
  • When the interview appears to be ending, look for an opportunity to ask for a face-to-face meeting.

Use these tips to nail the phone interview, and that will get you in the door for the face-to-face interview.  And since you’re in the door, NOW we can proceed with the next part of our journey.

(For more information about successfully preparing for YOUR next interview, download a copy of Dan Simmons’s e-Book, Put Your Best You Forward: Simple Steps to a Successful Interview.)