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Zen and the Art of Mastering the Phone Interview

For many, phone interviews are the hardest thing about the pharmaceutical sales job search. Nearly every company uses an initial "phone screen" in their process however so it's important to know what you can do to ensure you perform well during the phone interview process. Here are 10 ways to improve your chances of success.

1. Use a land line. This doesn't take much explaining. Interviews are hard to come by. The last thing you want to do is drop the . .

. hello. Hello? Can you hear me? I think you get the point - and don't use a speaker phone. 2. Dress for success.

Go through the normal routine you would have if this had happened to be a face to face interview. For instance, if you expect the call at 10a.m., don't roll out of bed at 9:15 and expect to be ready for the call. Get up at your normal hour - say 7a.m.

Do a bit of studying over a light breakfast, shower, shave and dress as if you were going to a real interview. OK, you can lose the jacket and tie. But look nice, will ya? It sounds silly but taking these steps will trick your body into thinking it needs to be at the top of its game. And your body will come through in the clutch. 3.

Center down. Allow yourself a bit of time (15 minutes or so) before the call to relax. Spend that time breathing deeply, forcing the thoughts of the company, the job and the interview out of your mind. With every exhalation, let the stress that has built up in your neck and shoulders escape. This practice will allow your brain to work free from stress when the phone rings and will set the tone for your breathing during the interview itself.

4. Talk with your hands. Allow yourself to use your hands while talking. Studies show that your brain can think of the exact words you want to use more easily when you allow your hands to move freely as you would in normal conversation. 5. Smile.

When someone smiles when your talking on the phone, you can hear it. So will your interviewer. Do it and make him/her feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. 6.

Hydrate. Keep some water handy. You don't want to keep the interviewer waiting if you get choked up or your mouth gets dry (and it will). By the way, "excuse me, I need to take a drink of water" is always an acceptable way to stall if you need a few extra seconds to think.

7. Check for agreement. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times. The job interview is a sale and the product is you. There is one question that is a salesperson's best friend and it is, "Did I answer your question completely?" Questions like this give the interviewer the opportunity to ask more questions of you and take away the opportunity for him/her to make excuses as to why you're not a good fit. 8.

Close. You're a salesperson and salespeople close. Even though you know the interviewer probably won't be able to commit to moving you further in the process ask him/her to do so anyway.

9. Mind your posture. Sit up straight in a quiet place with all your notes in front of you OR (even better) lay your notes out on a desk or large workspace and stand up while you talk. You'll also use your hands more if you're standing up. 10.

Control. Your. Cadence. When we're nervous, we have a tendency to talk fast.

Make a concerted effort to slow your speech and enunciate. You're interviewer will appreciate your articulation and your brain will have more time to think about the right things to say. Can you hear me now? Good.

Ryan Stewart has coached hundreds to pharma sales success (and he's done it all for free). To jump-start your pharmaceutical sales career go to

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