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Behind the Phone Interview

What to Expect, How to Prepare, and Why Phone Screenings Are Important for You

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Embarking on a job search journey involves more than just submitting resumes; it often includes the crucial step of a phone screening. As a job seeker, understanding when, why, and who plays a role in these preliminary conversations can significantly impact your overall success in the hiring process. This guide aims to empower you with insights to navigate phone screenings effectively. 

What is a Phone Screening and why it matters? 

Phone screening (or phone interview) is usually the first contact between an applicant for a job position and an HR representative from the company. It's a brief phone conversation designed to gather basic information for the employer's decision-making process. Beyond evaluation, a phone screening also serves as an opportunity for the candidate to receive essential details about the company, the specific position they are applying for, and gain insights into the upcoming interview stages. 

What to expect from a phone interview?

The main goal of a phone screening is to efficiently evaluate a candidate's qualifications, experience, and communication skills, streamlining the recruitment process. Lasting 15 to 20 minutes and conducted by an HR representative, it covers an overview of the company, job details and important company policies (e.g. a requirement for working from the office). It then goes on to put some light on the candidate – usually they are asked to shortly present themselves, their experience and the reason they have decided to apply for the job and the company. This is done so that not only can the employer see whether the applicants’ qualifications match, but also to make sure that they have the right motivation and understanding of the job.  

The phone screening is the place to address anything that is missing in the CV or was unclearly presented there. It also aims to understand the applicants’ expectations (not only of the job but also of the conditions and remuneration) and availability and to outline the next steps of the interview process. 

How to prepare for a Phone Interview?

The phone interview might be a candidate’s best shot at making a good first impression to his future employer. To do so, however, one must prepare beforehand. Here are some simple tips to follow when preparing for a phone screening: 

1. Take time to research the company 

Make sure that you have enough information about the company’s business and values. Demonstrating such knowledge will not only make you feel more confident during the call but also will let the recruiter know that you are genuinely interested in working there. To gain valuable insights about the company you can check their social media presence, visit their corporate website, or ask somebody you know who already works there or is a former employee. 

2. Make sure you understand the job you are applying for 

Review the job description carefully to understand the specific requirements and responsibilities of the role. Be prepared to discuss how your skills and experience make you a suitable candidate.  

3. Prepare your introduction 

Study your CV and highlight the most relevant experience, education, and accomplishments to the job you are applying for. Ensure you can give information for anything that may seem unclear in your resume. Remember that when being phone screened the recruiter has already read your resume and would prefer to understand more about what is missing there, rather than discussing in details. Moreover, these interviews are usually short in time, so you will only have a few minutes to present yourself and your experience in the best way possible. 

4. Prepare for common interview questions 

Anticipate common interview questions and prepare possible responses. Focus on showcasing your skills, accomplishments, and how they align with the requirements of the job. 

5. Set up your environment 

When called for a phone screening you will be asked whether it is a convenient time to talk or to schedule a time to do so. If you are not prepared or if you feel that something may disturb you during the call, it's advisable to choose the latter. Make sure that when you are taking the interview you will be in a quiet place so that both you and the recruiter could hear clearly and not be distracted. 

6. Prepare questions 

Remember that the interview is a two-sided interaction, so make sure that you prepare questions for the interviewer as well. This will not only give you a better understanding of the role but will also show that you are genuinely interested in the position. 

7. Be polite 

Practice good phone etiquette. Answer the call with a professional greeting, avoid interrupting the interviewer, and speak clearly and confidently. 

As you conclude this guide, recognize that phone screenings are not just checkpoints but key moments in your job-seeking journey. Your ability to navigate these screenings effectively is a testament to your commitment to securing the right opportunity for your career growth.