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How to stand out in a phone interview

I can still remember my first phone interview for a job. I had no idea what to expect so really wasn't looking forward to it, but it can't have gone too badly because I got the job. Now that I've been lucky enough to progress in my career to positions where I'm conducting the other side of the phone interview I've been quite surprised how little it takes to stand out from the crowd:

1. Be Prepared
When booking the interview, consider how much time you'll need to get to where you can comfortably take the call. When the interviewer phones you'll want to be nice and relaxed and able to take the call within a couple of rings. If you're struggling to find your phone, not drop any paper work or find a place out of the wind / pull over in your car you will already be putting yourself on the back foot.

2. Smile when you speak
Don't sound like you've just been called at 6am on your day off! When you answer the call make sure you sound happy and show that you are looking forward to speaking with the interviewer. They may have lined up several phone interviews that day and if you're the only one that sounded happy / pleased to speak with the interviewer; guess who they are going to remember!

3. Show that you were expecting the call
At the very least you should try to say "Hello, {{your name}}", even better say "Hello, {{your name}}. Is that {{interviewer's name}}. It's good to remember that the interviewer has been given your number from the recruiter and is probably hoping they've got the right number (it does happen) or they've entered it correctly (also can happen). By doing this small thing you are both helping the interviewer and showing that you were expecting their call. You're also helping to sell yourself from the outset in showing that you would be a great representative for the company if you were to be successful.

4. Expect a bad mobile signal
Technology is great, but chances are the phone company will wait until just before your interview to take the nearest mobile transmitter out of service. If the signal is bad, don't try to make do during the call, acknowledge the problem to the interviewer; ideally offer an alternative number (land line / skype) to use instead or just to try reconnecting the call (it's amazing the number of times that cures the issue). If you are answering a question with a long answer, make sure you give chances for the interviewer to confirm that they are still on the call.


And there you have it, just 4 really simple points to standing out in a phone interview; but please remember that sometimes you can do this and more and still it just won't be your day!

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