Do’s and Don’ts for your Phone Screen Interview

The phone screen has become a common trend in the recruiting industry. Recruiters are constantly bombarded with an obscene amount of resumes on a daily basis. Therefore, in the search to find quality talent, they have resorted to initial phone screens to weed out those not qualified and cut down time. This initial option has become a crucial part of the interviewing process. Candidates must recognize that in order to get to the next step and land a job, they must take the phone screen seriously.

I’ve been a job seeker and I’ve also recruited before. Having experience on both sides has allowed me to compile some great tips and advice when it comes to phone interviews. Candidates- please take note of these do’s and don’ts. All phone screens and phone interviews should be handled with a high level of professionalism. If not, you could be struggling to find a company who will give you the right of passage to the second interview.

DO:

  • Treat this as a face-to-face interview.
  • Handle it professionally.
  • Be ready and available to take the phone call and ensure you have enough time available in case the call runs longer than expected.
  • Your homework: Research the company so you can show the recruiter that you truly are interested in them.
  • Be prepared and be sure to have relevant examples to display that you are capable of doing the job successfully.
  • Ask questions! Recruiters like this and it can help them clearly see if this would be a good candidate/job fit.
  • Get straight to the point. Phone interviews are typically quick screens, so be sure to state the facts quickly and highlight the things that can really show that you would be an asset.
  • Ensure you are in a good service area. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to decipher what the other person is saying if they are cutting out or dealing with dropped calls.

DON’T:

  • Miss the phone call, especially if it was scheduled.
  • Have unnecessary background noise (i.e. dog barking, children screaming, tv blaring, etc.)
  • Ramble about things that are irrelevant. The screen was meant to cut down interviewing time so don’t make it longer than it has to be.
  • Take a call while driving or outside. Find a quiet room or even sit in a parked car. You must stay focused!
  • Ask what the company is or what the job is when answering the call. This will make the recruiter assume that you have application-blasted a bunch of companies and aren’t completely interested in this one.
  • Have unprofessional ringtones or voicemails. That is a huge turn off and could cause the recruiter to question your level of professionalism.
  • Come off as passive. Be enthusiastic about this job. Make sure the recruiter remembers you and your optimism.
  • Chew gum or food while on the phone. All the recruiter will hear is you chomping and will be distracted from what you’re actually saying.
  • Take the call in a restroom. Toilet flushing is extremely unprofessional (and creates some awkward visuals).

Remember, the phone screen/phone interview is your way to get on the gatekeepers’ good side. It is an extremely important step in the interview process. This can either make or break your chances of getting the golden ticket to enter into the next round of interviews. As a candidate, it is in your best interest to not take this lightly. Just because it is not face-to-face does not mean it’s any less important. In fact, this step could be even more so because this is your first impression and could define you as a hirable or non-hireable candidate for the company. Make sure you do your best!

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