Does your mind ever wander, even slightly, when you’re on the phone?  I think we’re all a little guilty of that…I mean, it’s not like they can see you, so we very often feel a little more freedom to look around the room or even complete another task while we’re on the phone.  We’re not as visually tied to the person we’re talking to.  In other words, we don’t have to concentrate on looking them in the face while we talk to them…so we mentally wander.

Wandering attention can be a fatal mistake in a phone interview.  You might only have 10 minutes with this person and on that measly 10-minute conversation, they’re going to decide if you’re worth spending an hour with in a face-to-face.  If you zone out even for a second, you could find yourself in the very awkward spot of not knowing how to respond because you didn’t hear the question, or losing your focus in the middle of an answer.  Then it’s “Goodbye, interview.”  So what do you do?

Since it’s so critical to stay on your toes in a phone interview, here are some tips to help you:
Have your phone interview in a quiet room.  The best place for a phone interview is at your home in a room where you can shut the door.  Everywhere else is not going to be a good idea:  Starbucks, a restaurant, your car, your office.  Too many potential disasters lurking in those places.
Minimize distractions. No music, TV, kids, pets, or other people to possibly grab your attention.  Go into your room and shut the door. 
Eat before your interview.  Food is fuel, so make sure you’re fueled up and ready to go before this very important conversation.  You don’t want any hunger pangs or blood sugar dips distracting you.
Go to the bathroom.  You can’t do your best thinking when all you can concentrate on is how bad you’ve gotta go. 
Wear comfortable, but professional clothing.  Just as you would in a regular interview, you want to dress professionally to put yourself in the right frame of mind.  But you also want to be comfortable so you’re not fidgeting with scratchy or too-tight clothing. 
Be prepared.  Have all your papers in front of you on your desk so you can easily see them when you’re talking.  What papers?  Your resume, your list of questions to ask, your notes on the company, the important points you want to make about yourself.  You don’t want to be shuffling papers, trying desperately to find something in the middle of your call.
Breathe.  Just before your call, take a few minutes to do a few deep, relaxing breaths.  You want to calm your nerves so you don’t sound jumpy or jittery.  Relax and you’ll be able to focus.

Author's Bio: 

Peggy McKee is a career coach and the CEO of Career Confidential, a website dedicated to helping job seekers get the jobs you want fast. Learn more on the Career Confidential website => 

Find more tips on phone interviews in this series, Phone Interviews: The 37 Most Essential and Extraordinary Tips That Will Get You To the Face-to-Face =>