10 tips for surviving the phone interview

You may know that phone interviews are used by many companies in their initial screening process. What you may not know is that the main aim of the phone call may be to eliminate you as a potential candidate for the job in order to create a manageable shortlist.

Employers may screen as many as 100 candidates during phone interviews. How do you make it through to the other side and secure a face-to-face interview? These 10 tips will help you to stand out from the crowd.

1. Preparation: Thorough preparation is essential for every interview. Who will be calling you? What is their position within the company? What do you know about the company and the vacancy?  Research the company website, including recent news updates and press releases, so you have a good idea of their challenges and successes.
2. Choose your time: Agree on a scheduled time in advance so you can properly prepare. Taking an impromptu call from HR means you are unprepared and unlikely to respond effectively to the interviewer's questions.
3. Use a landline: If your cellphone drops out halfway through the conversation, your chances may go up in smoke. If it's not possible to use a landline, choose an area where your cellphone service is excellent.
4. The sound of silence: Don't be afraid of a pause in the conversation. It may mean that the caller is taking notes on your relevant answers to his questions. Don't be tempted to fill the silence with inane chatter; demonstrate your confidence by waiting for the next question.
5. Location matters: No dog walking, background television/kids/household noise, running a bath or anything else that screams "unprofessional." First impressions count; choose a quiet location where you will not be disturbed or distracted.
6. Watch your body language: It might have been a long day, but don't slump over your desk with your head in your hands. Sit up straight, be alert, listen, be positive, don't lean back in your chair or slouch on the couch. While the interviewer can't see you, it will reflect in your tone of voice. Try smiling and see how it enlivens your whole demeanor.
7. Avoid the monotone: Your smile and enthusiasm should extend to your voice. A dull mumble is guaranteed to encourage your interviewer to press the delete button next to your application. Speak clearly, express enthusiasm and don't chew gum. You may think it's not discernible on the other end of the call but trust me, it is.
8. Prepare your questions: Prepare a list of questions that demonstrate your interest in the role. Think about what you need to know about this position, the opportunities, the culture, what success looks like in the role, why it's vacant and so on.
9. Be professional: This is an interview, not a catch-up with a friend. Be professional and confident with your choice of words. Use "I can" and avoid vague responses such as "possibly" and "perhaps." Don't be over-familiar with the interviewer -- your aim is to stand out from the crowd.
10. Finish on a positive note: An abrupt end to the call doesn't indicate a lack of interest, it may simply be that the interviewer has run out of time and has to move on to the next candidate on the list. Thank the caller for her time and reiterate your interest in the position. Be happy that you've done everything you can to raise your profile for this role.

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