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Electronic Interviews: How to get through your phone screening

Phone Interview

Make sure your phone interview sounds as professional as your in-person interview. Control your environment and your preparation.

Employers no longer call just to tell you when to come in for an interview. You may receive that news in an email. Rather, your first phone call with a prospective employer is likely to be a screening interview.

What to expect

Employers who conduct phone interviews are narrowing down their list of potential employees. At this stage, they are likely to ask questions that help them determine your proficiency in the job. Determining cultural and collegial fit will likely come later in the process and in person or via video.

What to do

Prepare just like you would for an in-person interview.

  • Do your homework. This may be only a screening interview, but you want to be as prepared as you can be. Take notes on the company and keep them in front of you. Have your resume, cover letter, and the job posting handy, too.
  • Dress in your employment interview outfit. Of course, the person on the other end of the phone can’t see you, but we tend to act more professional when we dress the part.
  • Give the interview your full attention. If you schedule a phone interview while you are driving or doing ANYTHING else, the interviewer will not believe you are taking the opportunity seriously, and you will not be taken seriously as a candidate. Ensure you are in a quiet place free of distractions.
  • Smile. It may feel weird, but practice until it’s natural. Yes, they can “hear” you smile.
  • Have a glass of water nearby. If the interview goes long and you talk a lot, your throat may get dry. You don’t want to cough on the phone.
  • Speak clearly. Don’t chew gum, eat, smoke, or do anything else that’s going to sound weird on the phone. If you tend to talk faster when you are nervous, practice slowing down.
  • Use conversational answers. You aren’t just answering questions. You are building a relationship with the interviewer, and you hope it’s one that will survive the phone call. So, have a conversation. Don’t make them drag information out of you with one-word answers to question after question.
  • Ask your own intelligent questions. Show you’ve spent some time learning about the company.
  • Ask what the next steps are. At the end of the interview, ask what you can expect. Will they contact you only if you progress to the next stage? Should you call if you haven’t heard from them within a week? Those are legitimate questions.
  • Send a thank you. This is a step that so many people omit. If you send a thank you note, you will stand out from other candidates who do not.

If you believe the obstacle to your landing a job is the way you interview, contact me today to talk about improving your skills. I can teach you a no-memorization way to prepare.


photo credit:  Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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