Expert Q+A

I have a phone interview coming up for a job I'd really love to get. What's the best way for me to ace it?


The biggest mistake most people make before a phone interview is not preparing just as thoroughly as they would if the interview were in person. Phone interviews don’t allow for the benefit of face time and therefore require focused effort to make a positive impression. Here’s what I suggest:

Dress to Impress
The interviewer may not be able to see you, but you will act and sound more confident in a suit and wing tips than you would in a bathrobe.

Get in the Zone
Position yourself in a space that’s comfortable, private and free of distractions. Use a landline instead of a cell phone to ensure a better connection and to avoid dropping the call.

Clear Your Throat

Shortly before the interview, call a friend and talk about something fun, like last night’s game or what you’re doing this weekend. It will get you into conversation mode and test your phone connection -- as well your environment -- to make sure they’re conducive to an interview.

Make Notes to Self

Have a cheat sheet and pen ready. Your cheat sheet should include main points you want to make about yourself, as well as questions you have about the job.

Stay Hydrated
Keep a glass of room-temperature water nearby. Avoid caffeine, sugar and dairy, as they can strain your vocal chords and affect the sound quality of your voice.

Stand and Deliver
Your voice will project more powerfully if you’re standing. And don’t forget to smile while you talk. Again, your interviewer can’t see you, but your positive energy will come through loud and clear.

After the interview, and within 24 hours, send a heartfelt thank-you note via email. A handwritten version dropped in the mail will also help you stand out. I always tell my clients to go even further by including with the thank-you a relevant article, white paper or news of an upcoming conference that the interviewer might find interesting (and that is ideally related to what you discussed about the job). This way, you’re able to act as if you’re already hired.

About the Expert

Maggie Mistal Maggie Mistal was dubbed “one of the nation’s best-known career coaches” by CNN. She is a certified life-purpose and career coach and the host of “Making a Living With Maggie” on Martha Stewart Living Radio/SiriusXM. Her passion is her career consulting practice, through which she works with people of all levels and backgrounds to help them find their ideal careers.

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