During the infancy stages of the interview process, recruiters often contact you for a “phone screen” after they’ve determined you are a potential candidate for the job.
What does a phone screen mean for you?
A phone screen shares many similarities to a “phone interview”, but the two serve different purposes.
A phone interview is often lengthier and requires more in-depth answers from the candidate. A phone screen is often 15-20 minutes long and allows the recruiter to share more details about the role.
Even though the phone screen may seem unusually simple compared to an in-person interview, it is a vital piece of the interview process and can make or break your chances of moving forward with the hiring process.
What can you do to make sure you are ready?
Do your research
One of the first questions a recruiter will ask you is, “What do you know about the company?” They won’t expect you to rattle off the company’s history, but you’ll need to prove that you have a superficial understanding of the company.
It’s okay if you don’t grasp the full scope of the company’s services, but openly admitting you don’t know anything won’t impress the recruiter.
To accomplish this, you can use a variety of methods, most of them involving your savvy tech skills:
Visit their website, check them out on Glassdoor.
Reach out to your LinkedIn connections to see if they know someone in that field who can point you in the right direction.
Even five minutes of internet research can make all the difference when you are inevitably asked this question.
Know your “Why?”
Another common question during the phone screen will be something like “What about the position attracted you to apply?” or “What interests you about this role?” What the recruiter is looking for here is a thought-out explanation of why you’re applying to their role specifically.
Use the job description and the company’s industry to your advantage here. If it’s in the technology field, maybe you explain that you think the tech industry is innovative and you want to be a part of that.
If you have prior experience that overlaps with the role you’re applying to, use that, too! Recruiters know that you’re probably applying to multiple positions at once. Your ability to relate your career aspirations directly with their company will set you up for success.
Ask relevant questions
Asking relevant follow-up questions after the phone screen shows that you’re engaged and genuinely interested in the role you applied to. Prepping some questions before the phone screen is a great plan and keep in mind the key here is relevance.
The last thing you want to do is ask the recruiter intrusive questions about their career path or any questions regarding sensitive company insights.
Any relevant questions during the phone screen are also acceptable. If at any point in time you need the information reiterated because you don’t comprehend it, it’s fine to ask the recruiter to repeat themselves.
It’s also okay to ask the recruiter to wait for a moment while you take notes.
What you don’t want to do is ask a question in a way that seems rude or interruptive. Be mindful of social cues and keep the conversation flowing.
One last thing to remember
Even though the phone screen sometimes takes less time than filling out a job application, it is just as important as an on-site interview and you should treat it as such.
Doing your research, reflecting on why you are interested in the role, and asking relevant questions will help you hit that phone screen right out of the park!