5 ways to botch a phone interview

Ilustration of young man on cell phone. Istock

Ilustration of young man on cell phone. Istock Photo Credit: iSTOCK

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Phone interviews are a fairly fundamental part of the job search process. Yet many candidates fail to progress beyond this stage in their pursuit of a particular job.

"Often, a candidate's failure occurs because he didn't treat the phone interview as seriously he would have a face-to-face meeting with a recruiter or potential employer," says Vicki Salemi, author of "Big Career in the Big City."

In her book, Salemi pinpoints several phone interview faux pas, which include the following:

Conducting the interview in your pajamas

Even though you're not meeting with someone face-to-face, you should still wear clothes that make you feel confident and put together, Salemi says. In addition, she recommends candidates wake up at least 30 minutes before the interview, comb their hair and brush their teeth. "I can't tell you how many times I've conducted phone interviews with people who literally just woke up. This created the visions in my head about their unbrushed teeth, uncombed hair and overall inability to focus," she explains.

Picking the wrong spot to talk

Whenever you're talking with a recruiter or potential employer on the phone, it's best to do so in a place that's peaceful and quiet. Outside noise and too many distractions around you can make it difficult to concentrate on what you're being asked during the interview. Salemi suggests staying at home for the phone interview and talking on a land line instead of a cell phone. "This way, it's likely you'll have clearer reception and you reduce any risk that you'll lose the call in the middle of a sentence."

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Failing to take advantage of access to helpful resources right at your fingertips

According to Salemi, the main advantage to a phone interview is that you can refer to a handful of helpful resources during your interview. For example, you can glance at a list of talking points or you can pull up the company's website on your computer so that it's in front of you while you're interviewing.

Forgetting to let your smile shine

It may feel silly to smile when no one's around to see it, but odds are strong that the person interviewing you will notice how much more pleasant your voice sounds when you're doing so. Salemi also suggests standing up during the interview. "You'll be able to project your voice more and sound more confident if you're standing as opposed to sitting down. Celebrities do this all of the time during radio interviews, so why not channel your inner rock star?"

Neglecting to close on a strong note


It's very important to close the phone interview just as you would an office interview, Salemi says. "Ask the interviewer about the next steps in the interview process, when you should follow up, and where they are in the process. Then say your cordial good-byes, hang up and immediately send a thank-you note."

Selena Dehne is a career writer for JIST Publishing who shares the latest occupational, career and job search information available with job seekers and career changers. She is also the author of JIST's Job Search and Career Blog (http://jistjobsearchandcareer.blogspot.com/). Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SelenaDehne.


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