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Phone Interviewing 101 - Tips and Tricks to Beat the Competition

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Before anything else, there is a Golden Rule of phone interviewing - Make sure that your ringtone, when employer calls, does not sound like a Puff Daddy or Metallica metal concert is replacing your normal ring. When I call applicants who have this, I just hang up, don't leave a message and cross them off my to-do list. If you have the aforementioned dial-tones you either will lose potential job opportunities in the near future or you have already begun to without knowing it. If you want a cool ring tone, download the 24, Jack Bauer one. He is a lot cooler that Puff Daddy and Metallica combined anyway. Women, you are fine with classical music, but nothing else.

Now that we're passed the Golden Rule of phone interviewing, here are some additional tips to heighten the odds to get to the next stage:

1.On any phone call, you have an estimated 5 seconds to make a good impression. Sound enthusiastic about the phone call and don't let the phone ring, if possible, too many times. If you come across as mundane, the interviewer will pick this up right away and it kills the tone of the conversation going forward. You could always reverse this, but it's better to get it right the first time.

As your career progresses, or possibly right off the bat, you will interview with and do business with a good amount of Europeans. With their culture you may around 3 seconds and, if you make presumptions during the interview, a European, by nature will tell you that you are wrong. They don't beat around the bush like Americans do. You can get thrown off by this. This also changes the tone of the conversation. It's happened to me, all my candidates, but you roll with the punches.

Always remember to stay upbeat and, by doing so, you control the tempo of the conversation.

For those who may be suspect, make sure that you are not out partying the night before. Despite it being a phone call, you need more energy than you would think. Plus, during your job hunt, alcohol or hanging out with the people who actively want to go to bars every night is irresponsible. Heavy drinking can ruin your career. Also, if you end up working in a niche industry, people will find out. I had to have a talk with a really nice candidate we found for a job about 3 months ago because my client told me about his reputation and wanted to inquire as to whether he was clean or not. He was. Though, it didn't matter; they passed him up.

2.Keep a pen and paper handy. Scribble down notes that the interviewer is giving you about the company. Phone interviews are like take-home tests, you can use everything to your advantage. Jot down each question you are being asked, therefore you will not go off topic during the question and answer session. This will allow you to always go back to the main question if you feel you are rambling.

3.Find a quiet space.Put pooch in the other room. It looks very bad when there is a dog barking in the background during an interview session. It looks really bad if and when he or she begins barking. For older alumni who are reading this, the same goes with children.

4.Listen and don't interrupt.Nobody likes to be spoken over, especially if they are the ones interviewing you.

5.Gather your thoughts before answering any questions. It is best to take a deep breath. If you don't know they answer, tell them that and politely ask if they can help. I run into this a lot and I ask because the sooner you ask the better. If you have to ask about certain facets of the company with whom you're with two weeks into the process, it does not bode well.

6. Close the deal.Ask the interviewer towards the close of the call, in a confident tone, if they would like to bring you in. One sentence should do the trick. Don't go into detail. Ask. The majority of the time, the interviewer is going to say that he or she has to speak with someone or has more interviews. Don't let this discourage you, it looks great and alludes to the fact that you have both guts and ambition. Actually, 90% of the time, this is going to be their response. Don't get discouraged. By doing this, you just greatly increased your odds.

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About Ken Sundheim: 31 year-old business owner of an executive search firm by the name of KAS Placement based in New York City. KAS Placement was started in 2005 from studio apartment by the CEO and now has clients from over 30 countries in 100 different industries . As a business writer, Ken's articles have been syndicated or published in:,,,, (more...)
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