The phone screen is not just a hurdle to the real interview. It might feel more relaxed, but it is a big part of the real interview. Do everything you would in a normal interview. That includes physical cues like smiling and making eye contact. When you smile more it makes you more enthusiastic and changes the way your voice sounds. When you look someone in the eye it makes you more interested and that comes through in your voice. It also raises your chin which will open your chest and help you ennunciate more clearly.
So… how can you look someone in the eye when you are talking on the phone? You fake it. Find a good quality picture of a face close up. Something from a magazine can do well. Choose one that is about the same size as a real face. Our brains are wired to process faces of a certain size. Put it on the wall in front of you and look the picture in the eye. It sounds goofy, but it works.
Eye contact is also good because it helps you stay focused. Phone screens cause most people less anxiety than face-to-face interviews. You don’t have to worry if you have food in your teeth or sweaty palms when you shake hands. That can be nice, but it is also problematic.
A little anxiety helps you focus which makes it clear that you are interested in what the other person has to say. If you are less anxious, don’t let that make you less focused. Don’t walk around or do anything else to make noise and give the impression that you are multi-tasking. If the interviewer hears you typing in the background you’re in trouble.
You can also help your focus by having your key documents ready. Print out your cover letter and resume. Put your big accomplishments on a separate page with easy to read type. If there are specific ideas you want to get across give yourself a big bold note to make sure you don’t forget or having to go looking at crucial moments in the interview.
You are trying to convince the company that you are an attractive candidate and worthy of flying in for an interview. Your ultimate goal is to convince the company that they should give you an offer and the phone screen is a big part of that.