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The Telephone Interview – 3 Tips to Success

September 12, 2012 by  
Filed under General

In today’s virtual world, many companies will opt for a phone interview before meeting their short list of candidates in person. Here are 3 tips to help you succeed at that step of the interview process.

#1. Make sure your voicemail message is professional. Here’s an example to use as a guideline: “Hi, you have reached Ellyn Enisman. Your call is important to me, so please leave your name and number and I will return your call as soon as possible.”

#2. Be Prepared! If an employer calls unexpectedly and asks if you have time to interview at that very moment, ask to reschedule. You want to have everything you need in front of you and be prepared. It is okay to say that you are not in a place where you can speak openly and ask to schedule a time and date that would be convenient for them.

#3. Set the Stage. Be sure you’re in a quiet place with no distractions. You’ll want to have a glass of water nearby and to sit at a desk and have your resume, interview prep notes and the job descriptions readily available to you at all times. Be sure to dress the part! Take the time to put on your business suit just as you would for an in-person interview. This will prepare you mentally and physically to be at your very best.

A word of caution: Be Fully Prepared! Ideally, you should have a file folder for each job you have applied to. In that file should be a copy of the job description and your four-column list of what they are looking for, how you match that skill, and scenarios to back up your answers. I cover this extensively in my book, Job Interview Skills 101 (in the section on preparing for the interview). Your resume should be out as well, along with a pen and blank paper. Any other information about the company should be taken out of the file and placed on the desk as well, in case you need to access it. Also, have your list of questions to ask the employer already prepared and at your fingertips. Ideally, a few sessions with a great Interview Coach will prepare you better than anything else for this step in your process. Making the time and investment in that coach could be the most important decision of your life.
Ellyn Small Enisman, LCSW, Certified Coach
Interview Coach
Author of the highly acclaimed book,Job Interview Skills 101

PS: To receive more great tips and advice on getting the interview and sidestepping some of the most classic mistakes, sign up for my newsletter at


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Hans-Hans, Gettysburg College
Ellyn provided insightful and comprehensive career counseling, and I would recommend her to any and all young professionals looking for assistance with their professional endeavors. Read more
Rebecca-Rebecca, Adelphi University
After college, I found the interview process very intimidating and difficult. Then I found Ellyn who fully prepared me for interviewing and provided me with a job search strategy. Her tools were unlike others I found in researching the internet. Read more
Francesca-Francesca, Georgetown University
I want to thank you for everything you have done for me this past year. Before I met you I was overwhelmed with graduating and wanting to find the “perfect” job. Read more
-Director of Career Services, St. Thomas Aquinas College
On behalf of the Career Services Office and the St. Thomas Aquinas College Community, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for sharing your valuable time with us and contributing to the continued success of our students. Read more
Joanna-Joanna, University of Pennsylvania
Ellyn not only coached me through the interview process, but also got me thinking about a career path, not just getting a job. I owe to her my first, second, and third jobs out of college. Read more
Allison-Allison, George Washington University
I don’t know if I would have gotten my job if it weren’t for Ellyn Enisman! The self assessment and discovery process she created helped me understand the value of my education, project work, internships, work experiences, and life experiences.Read more
AlishaAlisha, Northeastern University
Before my interview process began I contacted Ellyn to help revise my resume and take a professional look at the job offers that were available to me. She coached me about different careers that I might be interested in and the types of things that companies are looking for in candidates. Read more


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