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How to Win the Phone Interview

Preparing for the Interview

  • First things first - the purpose of phone interview is to get an in-person interview.  It is impossible for you to accurately measure the fit of an opportunity via the phone.  Focus on getting the next step set up.
  • Avoid conducting phone interviews on a cell phone.  They are too unpredictable and it makes the interviewer think that the interview is not your top priority.
  • Write down any questions that you want to ask in advance.  Have the list in front of you along with a pad of paper and pen for notes.  Take advantage of the fact that they can't see you.
  • Put a suit on if it makes you feel more professional.
  • Go to a room where you will not be disturbed by any noises or distractions.
  • Block out an hour even if you are told it will only be a 30 minute call (better safe than sorry).
  • Remember that the reason they want you to do a phone interview first is to see how well you articulate and how you will come across to their clients on the phone.
  • Turn off call waiting or do not answer it, even if they tell you it is ok.
  • Do your research on the company and the industry.  Spend about 30-60 mins on the web prior to the interview.  Know why you are interested in the company/position, what they do and how you can help them do it better.
  • Know yourself. This is more important than what you know about their company because they are hiring sales people not researchers.  With that said, have your resume directly in front of you.  It doesn't look good if you get dates or facts wrong.  Write out your sales performance year by year - know your #s!
  • Be prepared for situational questions such as:  Tell me about your greatest accomplishment, sale, toughest sale, the biggest sale you lost, if you could do it again what would you change, and so on.  Write the answers to all those questions before the interview so you don't have to rack your brain.  
  • Anticipate questions.  If you have a gap in your resume or a short stint at a company you can be the interviewer will ask you about it.  Be prepared.

During the Interview

  • Stand up! It allows for a greater flow of air through your lungs and your voice will sound better.
  • Smile.  You know the old adage that you can "Hear a smile through the phone"
  • The 3 Es - Energy, Enthusiasm and Excitement.  Convey you energy via the phone.  Remember that your voice is all that you have over the phone.
  • When they ask if you have any questions ask a few personal ones such as: How long have you been with xyz company?, what enticed you come to work here?, what keeps you here now?, what are the strengths of the company?, what are the weaknesses?  Ask a few company questions that show you are in it for the long haul such as: What is going to keep your company competitive in the future? What are the career opportunities in the future?, Where do you see the industry going?  Never ask questions about salary or benefits (those are questions to be answered after they have established their interest in you).  Use this portion of the interview to lead into your close.
  • Always, always close unless they already gave you a concrete time and date for the next step.  If you do not have a confirmed time and date, you did not close and 9 out of 10 times they won't ask you back.
  • Prior to closing ask for and uncover any hesitations the hiring manager may have.  It might be a simple misunderstanding or it might be a concern you can easily handle.  Overcome it!
  • Final tip - have fun!

Post Interview

  • Send an email thank you letter the same day to show your follow up skills, interest and professionalism.  Be sure to spell check your e-mail and have someone check your grammar.
  • Establish a day that you will call to follow-up and then follow-through.