First Impressions

By, 12/20/2011

When job seekers prepare for interviews, they rightly focus on making a great first impression—an appropriate outfit, good eye contact and a firm handshake can set a good tone right off the bat. In this day and age though, many firms conduct phone interviews before bringing candidates on-site. As a result, setting a good verbal impression is just as important as presenting a good visual image.

How can you do this? This New York Times piece has some practical tips. Do:

  • Use a landline. It's more reliable than a cell phone, and the line will be clearer.
  • Keep a glass of water handy.
  • Have your resume or a list of your accomplishments in reach—that way, if your mind blanks, you can reference this and avoid the dreaded awkward pause.
  • Be friendly. Smiling always helps; even though your interviewer can't see you, smiling can make your tone of voice more engaging.


  • Try to tell jokes or laugh too loudly. A friendly chuckle may be appropriate depending on the conversation, but avoid guffawing.
  • Take long pauses or deliver halting responses. Your interviewer may think you haven't prepared, and it could keep you from moving to the next step.
  • Conduct the call in a room where family members, pets can interrupt you. Similarly, avoid any location with background noise or any other distractions.

And here's one more tip: Don't talk too quickly! Keeping a steady, even pace will ensure your interviewer hears all of the great things you have to say.