Many times, candidates put more stock in a face-to-face interview than they do a phone interview. This is a mistake, since you won’t make it to the former without making a favorable impression during the latter.

A phone interview is also referred to as a “phone screen.”  There’s a reason for this: because hiring managers use it as a way to “screen” out candidates before deciding which ones to bring onsite.

With that in mind, you should prepare at least as much for a phone interview as you do for a face-to-face interview.  Remember that the ultimate goal of any job search is to receive an offer of employment, and you won’t receive that unless you make it past the “phone screen.”

Below are six tips for a successful phone interview:

  1. Use a quiet location—This is most important.  A quiet atmosphere will allow the interviewer to better hear you, and the conversation will be less stressful for you, since you’ll be able to focus on that instead of any surrounding noise.
  2. Rehearse—You might be resistant to such an idea, but remember: “practice prevents poor performance.”  Enlist the aid of a sympathetic ear to make sure you don’t talk too quickly or too slowly or stammer too often.  Then make adjustments as necessary.
  3. Eliminate all distractions—This might seem like common sense, but don’t chew food or smoke, and don’t play music in the background.  You (as well as the hiring manager) should be 100% focused on this phone conversation.
  4. Be friendly, enthusiastic, and confident—All of these lend themselves to making a good impression.  Remember to smile often while you’re speaking.  While it’s true that the person on the other end of the line can’t see you, they can hear the enthusiasm and energy that your smile is creating.
  5. Be prepared to ask questions—Three things to have ready before the call are your resume, a description of the position for which you’re applying, and a list of questions.  Feel free to add to the list of questions during the interview and then ask them at the end.
  6. Breathe easy and relax—Yes, you might be nervous.  That’s perfectly normal.  However, being uptight will not serve you well.  Take a deep breath, count to ten, whatever it takes . . . because if you’re not relaxed, your state of unease will be apparent during the conversation.

Use the six tips above to prepare for your next “phone screen,” so you can land a face-to-face interview and move one step closer to an offer of employment!