First impressions are huge. HUGE. So why is it that potential candidates don't feel the need to be professional during a phone screen? No, I can't see you, but I can definitely hear you. I can hear distraction in your voice, and I can hear the fact that you're not smiling through your tone. I can also hear the darn dog in the background. The fact that your younger sister is begging for your car keys while you're responding to my last question, is not helping your cause. You're cut.
Phone interviews are just as important as an in-person meeting with an employer you've been trying to get an interview with for the last eight months. Whether you're competing for a Sales Associate position at J. Crew, or an Investment Advisor position with Bank of America, the way you handle your phone interview is the first — and sometimes last — impression with the recruiter. Find a quiet space in the house to pull up your resume, pull yourself together, and put the dog far, far away. Let everyone in the house know how important this is to you, and that you need complete silence. Better yet, leave the house!