The phone screening is a part of the interview process that can loosely be called the “first round of job interviews.” At times, an online application leads to a phone screening invitation. Other times, recruiters may get on a phone to screen a job candidate for opportunities they have on their plate.
In general, phone screenings are used to make sure the job candidate should be called for an in-person job interview. Read how to master the phone screening. Make sure you are always asked to have an in-person job interview!
1. Make Sure You Are in the Right Place
We live in a world where our phones are with us at all times. It does not give you, the job candidate, permission to treat the phone screening like it is just a distraction from your daily routine.
What does this mean? It means:
- Do not do phone screenings while driving, waiting in line at a restaurant, or getting your haircut.
- Give the phone screening 100% attention in a nice quiet place without distracting background noises.
Doing this will also help your demeanor during the call. You will sound relaxed, and the interviewer will appreciate you making this phone call a #1 priority.
2. Make Sure the Connection Is Perfect
Phone services are still imperfect. People lose signals while talking on the phone. If you know your cell phone typically has problems, go to a more reliable phone for the call. Try using a landline if you do not trust your cell service.
3. Have Your Resume out in Front of You and Take Notes
They will be asking questions about your resume. It only makes sense that you have your resume in front of you for the phone screening.
Take notes during the interview, too. If this phone screening turns into an in-person interview, you will have plenty of notes to look over and questions to ask. It will surely make you look well-prepared for the job interview with an employer.
4. Be an Amazing Listener
The phone screening is happening to find out if they should bring you in. Let them ask you interview questions. Give them the answers they asked for, and you encourage them to call you in.
It is not the time to tell boring stories or hammer the interviewer over the head with your knowledge. Use hints that show you are listening. For example:
- “I see”
No rants or speeches are necessary. Keep it simple and just listen for when to respond. Say nothing more than what they need to hear.
5. Nail Down the Deal Breaker Interview Questions
Questions like these are designed to eliminate you from the hiring process:
- “Why do you want to work here?”
- “What are your greatest weaknesses?”
- “What are your salary expectations?”
They want to see if you answer aligned with what they are looking for, or in some cases if they can afford you. Each of these job interview questions helps employers find out on the phone if interviewing you further is a waste of time.
6. Avoid Verbal Pauses and “Upspeak”
You may use them all the time in your daily life. But during a phone interview verbal pauses can either put an employer to sleep or make the employer think you are ill-prepared for the phone screening.
Over-usage of these verbal pauses include the following:
- “You know like”
“Upspeak” is a way of talking in which every spoken sentence has the same vocal pitches of someone asking a question. For example:
“I worked at this company for five years? And I have lots of job skills?”
Speaking this way can be viewed as a sign someone is not confident or lacks professional experience.
7. Express Appreciation and Set up the Next Steps
Simply put, let the interviewer know you appreciate the phone call. Then, ask what steps are required to meet in-person. Even if you bombed the phone screening, asking about the next steps may lead to an employer calling you in for a job interview. Try this out:
“I appreciate your time today on the call. Perhaps we can set up a time to meet in-person?”
If the employer declines while on the phone, there is nothing you can do about it. However, if they set up a time and date, it will be your chance to make up for the failed phone screening. They may just bring you in because you had a positive mindset on the phone and they want to know more about you!