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Nine Ways to Impress When Opportunity Calls

By: Margaret Hansen

Job Seeker Bright Spots

Nine Ways to Impress When Opportunity Calls

Whether you're employed, consulting or just trying to survive unemployment unscathed, a great first impression can make or break a deal with your next potential employer.

Your resume is plucked from a pile as "interesting." Suddenly, your phone rings. It's a recruiter wondering if you have a few minutes to talk about a job and your qualifications. Caught slightly off-guard, you try to come off as pleased, but not eager.

So much of their decision rides on how you perform right now. Here are nine tips from David R. Eyler, author of Job Interviews That Mean Business: 3rd Edition, to make that great, over-the-phone first impression:

  1. Sound composed - even if you are not expecting the call.
  2. Have reference materials handy, i.e. websites, company information, your resume, and pen and paper for note-taking.
  3. Be business-like, but pleasant (i.e. no throat clearing or gum-popping).
  4. Don't just answer the interviewer's questions; use them as opportunities to briefly showcase your strengths.
  5. Learn what they want - What problems need solving? What exactly is the job to be done? What personal and professional qualities are they looking for? Then, build your case in response to those needs.
  6. Avoid asking about salary and benefits right now. If you're asked for a salary requirement, give a range, but reassure them that it shouldn't be an issue either way.
  7. Be ready with some intelligent questions of your own when the interviewer offers you the floor.
  8. Say "Thank you."
  9. Accept an in-person interview, even if the job itself doesn't measure up to your expectations right now. It could later or it could lead to a better job. If the job doesn't turn out to be something that you want, Eyler says you can chalk it up to good practice and say "No thanks."

Margaret Hansen has been writing professionally since receiving a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Maine. She has worked for multiple organizations as a weekly newspaper reporter, a weekly newspaper editor, and in a variety of internal/external marketing communications roles. Her freelance career has focused on writing and editing for print, email and web publications in the employment industry, as well as manuscript editing and resume writing.