Dear Amy: I'm about to have my second phone interview.

Pre-pandemic, when interviews were in person, I took great pride in showing off my good people skills and confident demeanor. I enjoyed courteously greeting my interviewers, flashing a big smile and delivering a solid handshake. I spent many years in customer service so I know how to smile over the phone, but how do I compensate for all the other stuff?

Amy says: My own experience is that the in-person interview was receding long before the pandemic hit. Depending on the career, typically job candidates are expected to take online personality tests, write essays and then go through at least two phone interviews — before graduating to a Skype call. And yes, it can be very challenging to hit all the right notes when you can't rely on facial expressions and body language.

My advice is to do your homework, researching the company you wish to join and the job description. Understand and write down key metrics applicable to the job. Connect with the interviewer (if possible) on LinkedIn or other social media.

Have your résumé printed out and in front of you. Bring notes to the call.

Start by listening — the person interviewing you will set the stage. Keep any personal anecdotes short.

Relate specific positive job experiences that will enhance your application ("I dealt with a version of that at my previous company. Here's what we did ...")

Be prepared to discuss (sigh) your greatest weakness or most regrettable failure. (Note: "I care too much and work too hard" is not an answer.)

Ask an industry-specific question based on your research (or on something the interviewer has told you).

Connect any outside applicable experiences that may be interesting, memorable or quirky (I used to be a lounge singer, and no matter my professional qualifications, this is what interviewers are always most curious about).

End the call on a positive note: "It has really been a pleasure to talk to you; what are the next steps in the process?"

Wait a couple of hours and send a (short) "thank you" e-mail, referencing back to at least one detail from the interview. Express your sincere enthusiasm for the position. End with "I look forward to hearing from you."

And then the waiting begins.

Marriage fears

Dear Amy: I am currently engaged to a man I would call my Prince Charming.

I love him. When I see him, I would get that happy girl crush all over again. The problem is, I'm scared of getting married.

Before him, I was previously engaged and got dumped four months before the wedding. I do want to marry him, but I'm scared that I will relive the whole thing over again.

Also, we don't live together, as I am also scared about moving in together due to what happened before him. What should I do?

Amy says: I hope you can understand that as long as you let your previous experience control you, you are basically letting your ex live your life for you.

The idea is to learn from your experiences and mistakes, without having to relive them on a loop. For now, take marriage off the table and remove the pressure that seems to be weighing you down.

Being left is definitely personally traumatic. Counseling would help you to own your fears, without making your fiancé pay.

No one is guaranteed a fairy tale, but the way toward a happy ending commences one step at a time. You could perhaps make some progress if you agreed to stay with your fiancé for a two-week trial (having an end-date for cohabitation might make the first step easier).

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