By Kathy Spearing | June 12, 2019


How many times have you applied for a job and the very next step was an in-person interview? Maybe once or twice if you’re lucky, but that’s not usually the norm. Typically, there is a phone screen or phone interview that happens before you get called into the office for an interview.

phone interview is a quick way for HR professionals, hiring managers or recruiters to vet out qualified candidates before having them start the formal interview process. This helps the business who is hiring reduce time, resources and cost. Nowadays, this has become standard practice.

While a phone screen is usually pretty quick and casual, it is absolutely necessary for you to nail it in order to move to the next round of the interview process.

Sometimes these calls are scheduled, but they can also be out of the blue. So, you should be prepared.

I recently came across an insightful Forbes article that talks about tips for proper phone interview etiquette, and my team has written about it in the past. I think this is the perfect time to revisit the topic as spring and early summer are notably high seasons for hiring. Take a look at the 5 Tips to Master the Phone Screen before Landing an Interview below.

1. Know the logistics of the call. 
Assuming it is a scheduled phone interview, it’s important to get clear instructions on the when, where, what and who of the call. Know the exact date and time, who is calling whom, how many people will be on the call and how long they plan to chat. You also want to clarify whether it is going to be a traditional phone call or video call. Understanding these details will help you follow the proper protocol and avoid any miscommunications or blunders on your part.

2. Rehearse ahead of time.
Preparation doesn’t only include researching the company and the role you’re seeking, it’s important to prepare your responses to common interview questions, as well. You may know your strengths and weaknesses, but rehearsing the tone, direction and length of your responses is crucial to making it to the in-person interview. This can also be used as a great way to showcase your personality and share a connection with the hiring manager over the phone. Another way to prepare is to have a list of questions that you want to ask the interviewer. This will allow you to sound more polished and interested in the conversation and the role, overall.

3. Set up your interview space.
Make your home your space for success! Be sure you have your resume on your desk or taped on your wall so that you can easily refer to it. Also, have a pen and paper (or tablet) ready to take notes. Make sure the room is free of noise, clutter and any children or pets. It’s a good idea to have a bottle of water ready since you’ll likely be talking a lot and may need hydrate. Definitely do not eat anything or chew gum while on the call. Lastly, be sure that you have good phone reception. This will help eliminate any distractions, unnecessary sounds in the background or dropped calls.

4. No matter what, be professional.
No matter how much preparation you’ve done, surprises can always pop up when you’re on a phone call—especially if you do not know the incoming number. If this is the case, be sure to identify yourself right from the beginning so that the caller knows they’ve reached the appropriate person. To set the professional tone from the beginning, listen to how they introduce themselves and refer to the person by that name or nickname. Lastly, make sure you listen to what the interviewer has to say and don’t interrupt! Be sure they’ve finished asking their question in full before you begin to respond. Taking a short breath or pause before starting to answer their questions will also help you collect your thoughts and help you properly reply to the question.

5. Pretend you’re in person.
This may seem silly, but whether you’re having a video interview (which we’ll touch on in a future blog) or it’s a regular phone call, you should dress professionally to get your mind prepared as if it were an in-person interview. When you’re dressed in business casual attire you’re more likely to act professionally than if you’re lounging around in sweats. So, leave the workout clothes for the gym and put on slacks and button up. Also, be sure to smile while you’re talking even though no one will be able to see you. Often a smile can come through by your tone—and that’ll lend to you coming off as warm and friendly which are great traits to have.

Have other tips for conquering a phone interview? Comment below and let us know!


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