Phone Interviews on the Rise

According to the most recent Career Thought Leaders Group, phone interviews are increasing in frequency and scrutiny. Accordingly, in addition to the initial phone screening, telephone interviews are being used more often to cut costs and save time during the hiring process.

Given its usage increase during the interview cycle, the consequence of improper phone etiquette can be damaging to your career. With this in mind, improving your phone interview odds can be gained by following these common-sense tips.

●  Dressing up for your phone interview. I know it sounds a bit odd but it is a well-known fact that individuals “looking the part” perform more effectively than those in their pajamas.
●  Researching the company, industry, and specific position. Besides doing a bit of company research on the Internet, a valuable job skills and responsibilities resource can be found at Recognizing what’s out there in terms of products, competitors, and job opportunities will give the interviewer the perception that you know what you are talking about and that you are interested in the company and position.
●  Engaging in the phone interview in a quiet area with limited (how about none) distractions. Remember the interviewer can’t see you or your physical reactions. As a result, the interviewer is seeking clues to help them determine if you are the right fit. For example, are dogs barking near your feet? Is a mother-in-law asking what you want for lunch? Are kids yelling in the background? Is street-rap blaring in the background? Noises and distractions in the background do create an impression, rarely a positive one.
●  Being prepared for the “Tell me about yourself” question. When asked this question (or something like the “Why should I hire you” question) appreciate the question is designed for your benefit and is the ideal opportunity to sell yourself and the many contributions you bring. This is where company and job position research comes in handy as you develop a response based upon what the company needs, not a long-winded story about summer camp.
●  Keeping a professional and calm tone. This is not the time to speak rapidly, too softly, or too loudly. Make sure your responses are heard at a comfortable level and not overtaking. Remember the interviewer is listening for clues of confidence, not cockiness.
●  Asking a career coach, mentor, or family member to practice with you. When it comes to phone interview strategies, practice does make perfect. Don’t fight me on this, but when conducting a mock interview, dress and act the part.

No doubt companies are becoming more and more cost conscious and will expand the use of non-face-to-face interview methods. For the unprepared, this could be disastrous on many levels. But for those who have performed their due diligence, becoming one of the pack leaders can be obtained.

If you have questions or examples regarding phone interviews or any other career related issue, don’t hesitate to reach out and send your request through the comment section or email me directly at

For those interested in obtaining cutting-edge career books and single topic guidebooks, visit our website ( or go to Amazon (simply search Danny at ECS) and review the available library of available career resources.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Got Twitter? Shadow me @dannyatecs

Ready to give Job Shadowing a Try?

What’s it take to be a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker? What are the real, day-to-day physical and mental demands? What are the emotional pitfalls and rewards you couldn’t anticipate without actually doing the job? How do you find out?

Dr. Kathryn Broyles, Ph.D., Program Director of General Studies at American Public University/American Military University, details an effective technique to “find out:”

A great strategy for answering all of these questions and more, and putting some “real” experience on your resume to boot, is to shadow a professional. Not as involved as an internship, but a chance to make professional connections and really get a glimpse of a job from the inside, job shadowing puts you in a better position when interviewing with potential employers. You’ll be able to point to your willingness to tackle new experiences, your willingness to network and learn, and you’ll also likely be able to ask a few savvy questions in the interview that you might not have had the insight to ask otherwise, if you had not shadowed a real professional.

Job shadowing is also a great way to explore a career you think you might be interested in before committing any substantial time or money into preparing for such a career. It’s a great way to get your questions answered about what it takes to be successful in that position or that field. It’s also an excellent way to gain first-hand knowledge of the culture of a company or field you might be interested in being associated with in the future.

Finding Job Shadowing Opportunities:

Locating opportunities to shadow professionals active in a field you’re contemplating entering may be easier than you think. The first place to look for opportunities is to visit your college’s Alumni Association or Career Services Office. In addition to frequently providing formal shadowing opportunities, they might also be able to put you in touch with fellow alumni who could provide you relevant connections. Does the field your interested in require some sort of professional membership, accreditation or certification? If so, the accrediting or certifying body or other related professional organizations could be a resource for you. Through such organizations you might connect with professionals who have already indicated they are interested in mentoring or hosting a particular period of job-shadowing.

If you’re not sure yet what sort of career you want, virtual shadowing can help you decide where to focus your “real time” shadowing. One website dedicated to virtual shadowing [] provides a long list of interview with professionals in the field and can help you decide if a career interests you. The University of Chicago is another resource providing virtual glimpses into various career fields with their web page, Snapshots: Interviews with Professionals, providing multiple, downloadable pdf transcripts of interviews in more than 18 different job categories. []

Making the most of Job Shadowing Opportunities:

Once you’ve arranged a shadowing opportunity, approach it like you would an important interview and your first day at a new job. Do your homework. Understand the basics about the job and the professional you’ll be shadowing as well as the company, school, or agency he or she works for. Do the research you would to be prepared for a real job interview for a similar position, and dress the part. Remember that not only are you the guest of a professional during your “shadow time” but you’re also making an impression on everyone you encounter and you want that impression to be a good one. You never know what opportunities could turn into job opportunities.

To help you get more out of the experience and to establish the best possible relationship with your host, Texas State University’s Career Services office has developed the following set of questions:

20 Questions To Ask To Better Know Your Host:

  1. What is your job title?
  2. What level of education is needed for this job? Is an advanced degree necessary?
  3. What were your interests in school? How did that lead to your career choice?
  4. What has your career path been?
  5. Why did you select this type of work?
  6. How long have you been in this position?
  7. What are your responsibilities?
  8. How would you categorize your work environment? Is it fast-paced? Do you have daily routine tasks?
  9. What is a typical day like for you?
  10. What do you like most about your job? What do you like least?
  11. How have you seen your career interest change?
  12. What skills do you think are required for this career that you think I should know? Are there any specific classes you would recommend that would prepare me for this type of job?
  13. How did your previous work experience or schooling relate to your career?
  14.  What is the path for advancement in your field?
  15.  What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your job?
  16.  What have you learned from some of the jobs you have had?
  17.  What kind of career advice would you give to a student who is interested in a similar career?
  18.  How has your job and your career field changed over the years?
  19.  Is there anything that you would do differently, if given the chance?
  20.  If you had only one piece of advice to give me, what would it be?

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Now that you know what Job Shadowing is, how it can benefit you, how to arrange it, and how to prepare to make the most of it, go for it!  The experience may prove pivotal to your future.

Thanks Kathryn, your advice is greatly appreciated. For those interested in learning more about American Public University/American Military University, where they are expanding access to higher education with more than 100 affordable degrees and certificates to prepare students for service and leadership in a diverse and global society, visit their website at

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Got Twitter? Shadow me @DannyatECS

Actor Jen Jarackas’ Career Straight Talk

Orlando City Beautiful is home to many actors, artists, and entertainers. Recently one of our readers requested information about breaking into the entertainment business. As a result, one of the most talented actors calling Orlando home was given the task of responding to Etta Steven’s question:

What professional advice would you give someone looking to break into the entertainment business?”

Artists Square’s member, professional actor, and teacher Jen Jarackas offers first-hand advice to those aspiring professionals looking to succeed in the entertainment business.

The first words that come to mind when asked this question are: fierce determination and tireless perseverance.

Pursuing a career in the entertainment industry is not necessarily an easy feat; though it can be a very fun and rewarding one, IF you dare to allow yourself to enjoy the journey.

First and foremost, remember you are entering the Entertainment Business. (Emphasis on business)

I witnessed a lot of actors throughout my journey put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into the creative side, the craft, but neglect the business, which involves a lot of marketing, networking, admin, etc….To a lot of creative, artistic people, it seems that business is a dirty word….nonetheless, a business it is.

So, the best thing to do is jump on in, become the CEO of your own business, YOU! Find ways to make it fun! Get creative!

Yes, find agent representation; yes, work with a personal manager, keeping in mind that you are also interviewing them. Know something about them and what type of clients they are presently representing… perhaps they already have enough of “you” in their database…

Career Tip: Be an active participant in your career.

My main career advice is of the spiritual vein:

Never Give Up! Trust your intuition. Listen to your gut. Be willing to make mistakes. Be willing to go the extra mile. Ask questions. Find your own path – and follow it. Follow your own uniquely paved yellow brick road.

Ways to Improve Your Skills…

  • Study, study, study! As an actor you have 3 components to explore, strengthen, and nurture: physical, vocal, and emotional.
  • Take as many classes and workshops as you can. You are simultaneously learning      and networking.
  • Read plays, film and television scripts, actors’ biographies – research anything and everything on acting!
  • Watch movies, new and old, especially the old. There is an element and style to filmmaking and acting from the “ole” days” that cannot be touched…and usually isn’t nowadays. I have learned so much by simply watching Marlon Brando and Humphrey Bogart!
  • Audition for local plays, volunteer at local playhouses and the Fringe Festival, etc. Again, it’s another way to get involved and network.
  • Practice Discipline. Feed Your Passion. And remember to balance it all with some      time for you, whether that be family, beach, a day at the spa, etc. A rested and recharged you makes for a more productive and successful actor!

Career Tip: There’s a lot of rejection along the way. It’s good and important to develop your support circle(s).

Thank you, Jen, for your practical insight. For those unfamiliar with Jen’s work, here’s a quick summary:


  • Emotional Freedom and Monologue Workout Workshops ~ Art’s Sake Studio/Instructor
  • Advanced Auxiliary ~ Art’s Sake Studio/Instructor


  • “Just Left of the Drama” ~ Jen ~ Hnarakis Prod./Dir. Demetrius Hnarakis
  • “The Paper Route” ~ Hostage ~ Stars North Prod./Dir. Todd Thompson
  • “As It Is” ~ Femme” ~ AFI Prod./Dir. Ka Ramuu Kush


  • “Angel of Death: Aileen Wuornos” ~ UFTProd./Dir. Simon Kerfoot
  • “Mad Men” Seasons 1-3 ~ Sterling Cooper Secretary (recurring) ~ LionsGate Television/Dir. Alan Taylor, et al.


  • “Our Lady of 121st St” ~ Marcia ~ Hollywood fight Club/Dir. David Danino
  • “The Crucible” ~ Elizabeth Proctor ~ VCC/Dir. John DiDonna
  • “The Battle” ~ Crazy Anne ~ ATW Theatre Co. NYC/Dir. Jim Bonney

For additional information and to view Jen’s headshot, connect with the following link:

Wishing to connect with fellow actors, entertainers, artists, and creative minds, become an Artist’s Square member at

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS