Originally Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011, 3:47 pm
Last Updated: Oct. 12, 2011, 3:48 pm

Don't 'Phone It In'

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by Patricia Rivera CTW Features

Hiring managers may not see you during a telephone interview, yet everything you do and say makes it crystal clear to them whether you’re a fit candidate.

“The phone interview will make or break your chances with a company. Take it seriously,” says Paul J. Bailo, author of the recently released “The Essential Phone Interview Handbook.”

Interviewers take many factors into consideration during an interview, Bailo discovered, including how many rings should pass before the candidate answers the phone (three). Pick up too quickly and you may come off as needy and put yourself in a position of being wanted, he says.

Once you answer, make sure you don’t rush into the interview. Take time for what Bailo calls the “phone handshake.”

“This is a way to get to know the interviewer before the formal part of the interview takes place and to establish a rapport with them before they actually start asking questions,” he says.

In less than 90 seconds, try to connect by, say, referring to some knowledge that you have about them, their interest or the city where they live. Thank them in advance for the call.

Then demonstrate what you know about the company and the job. The advantage of a phone interview is that it’s like an open book test, Bailo says. You can have all your notes and answers in front of you.

Interview coach Carole Martin of San Diego says candidates often fail to prepare for phone interviews. She suggests taking time to study the job description then comparing what you have to offer against what they need.

“Specify to the interviewer succinctly how good of a match you are for the position,” she says. Bailo offers these quick tips on smart phone interview techniques:

• Use a land line (not a mobile phone).

• Disable call waiting and turn off your fax machine and mobile phone.

• Dress in job interview clothes for the phone call with the potential employer, to put yourself in a professional mindset.

• Use vivid words and exude confidence about yourself and your accomplishments.

• Follow up as you would with a standard interview.