5 Tips For Nailing Your Next Phone Screen

Woman answers the phone for a phone screen/interview

When you have an employer calling and saying they want to schedule a phone interview with you, that means you look good on paper and they now want to see if you are all that you say you are. The phone screen is a critical stage in the job search process because how well you communicate and perform will pave the way to the big opportunity of a meeting at their office with the decision makers.

In most instances, the phone screen is conducted by someone from HR. They'll primarily review your professionalism and communication skills to see if you are articulate, knowledgeable, and have the right experience and skills for the job.

The ultimate mission is to screen out candidates so that the ones who are invited for an in-person interview are the best in the bunch. So, here's how you can ace the phone screen:

1. Watch Your Intonation & Build Rapport

Your intonation and body language account for 90% of the effectiveness of your communications. If you are on the phone with no video, your intonation is all you have so be enthusiastic and try to build rapport as people hire people they like.

At this point in the process, the screener is also looking to clear up any questions or hesitation they may have about you from reviewing your resume. Be aware of anything on your resume that may be a red flag and prepare to respond to it without coming off as defensive.

You want to be honest and address any concerns, but also know how to steer the response to something more positive that brings back the message of "this is what I have to offer that you need."

2. Dress The Part And Talk The Part

Woman listens during a phone screen


Are you struggling with confidence before your phone screen? Wear your favorite interview outfit. The one you know you look good in. You'll feel confident and professional.

Also, today's "phone screens" don't necessarily mean just voice. Many employers may request a virtual interview, so be prepared to not only talk the part but dress the part too.

How you look and sound leaves an impression, just like it would from an in-person meeting. Express energy and enthusiasm in your tone.

3. Speak Of Accomplishments When Asked About Previous Jobs And Responsibilities

Job seeker on a phone screen


Employers asking about your past experience aren't looking for a description of your job. If you want to impress, you need to speak of accomplishments and success and how those experiences have prepared you to contribute and bring success to future employers.

Quantify your experience. Do your research and talk to the need that the job posting highlights and then talk about how you've been there, done that, and can directly contribute to the employer's needs.

4. Be Prepared To Handle The Offbeat Question

Woman answers a difficult interview question during a phone screen


Some phone screens have standard questions directed toward your experience and skills, but there are also employers who may put you on the spot with a scenario to see how you react and respond.

The important thing is to not let these types of questions rattle or stump you. Keep a can-do attitude. Make sure you know your experiences, accomplishments, skills, and strengths like the back of your hand. Also, know how you can help the company reach its goals. It'll be hard to stump you when you've done your research.

5. Be Ready To Talk About Salary Requirements

Man aces his phone screen


You will be asked this to see if you are in their salary range. This can be tricky because if you present a number below what the employer has budgeted, you lose any chance of securing a higher salary, one the employer may (or would) have considered. And if you present a number that is too high, the employer may decide to dismiss your application and resume even before you have had the chance to make your case in an interview.

The best way to respond to a question about salary during a phone screen is to say, "Although the job and the challenge are most important to me, you should know that I am considering a salary in the XX to YY range." If you make it through the interview process to the last round of interviews, you'll also want to hone your salary negotiation skills.

Each employer will have a different method of screening applicants over the phone. But with these tips, you'll be prepared for whatever comes your way.

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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