7 tips for giving a better phone interview

If the very thought of talking to a reporter on the phone makes you nervously fiddle with the cord (even though you haven’t owned anything but a wireless phone in years), then this advice is for you.

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Sure, they talk by phone with their family, friends, and business contacts every day. But the telephone habits they use during those calls are radically different from the ones they need for interviews conducted by phone, or “phoners.”

So forget everything you (think) you know, and remember these seven tips the next time you have a phoner:

1. Get out of your office. Don’t sit at your desk, where you can be easily distracted by incoming emails, phone calls, and office visitors. Find an empty conference room with no distractions, and tape a “Do Not Disturb – Interview in Progress” sign on the door.

2. Bring your notes. It’s OK to have notes in front of you during phone interviews. Be careful not to read them straight from the page; use them merely as memory triggers.

3. Get a headset. Telephone headsets are terrific gadgets for phone interviews. They allow you to use both of your hands to gesture—which adds emphasis to your voice—and frees you to shuffle your note cards or scribble a quick note.

4. Stand. When our trainees stand, they are able to “think faster on their feet.” They also tend to project more authority, likely because pacing helps them use their nervous energy in a more productive manner.

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