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Break Through the Phone Screen and Onto the In-Person Interview

Break Through the Phone Screen and Onto the In-Person Interview

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They replied!

The company you applied to actually replied! They want to talk to YOU!

Now you have to make it through the phone interview… Ugh.

Don’t worry. Surprisingly, the phone interview should be the easy part. You’re in your element; you have all of your notes in front of you; and you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in traffic.

Even though this is the open book exam part of the interview process, people still tend to stumble over their words, forget to say what they wanted to say, or generally give a bad impression over the phone.

Here’s how you can break through the phone screen and have them calling you back to the coveted in-person interview.

Seven Tips for Crushing the Phone Screen Interview

  1. Do Your Research

Before you get on the call, you should be eating and breathing this company. If you’re interviewing for a sales job, you should be able to sell the product back to them.

Prepare yourself by reading recent blog posts, reading any and all recent news (tip: go to the Google News tab and search for the company. This will give you all of their recent news hits), watching their promo videos, and reading every word of their home page and career pages.

Additionally, if you know who’s conducting the phone interview, do some research and find them on Linkedin and see if you have any mutual connections. Who knows, you might have gone to the same high school, or worked at the same company in the past.

  1. Location, Location, Location

If it sounds like you’re standing in Grand Central Station… You’re probably not getting the job.

Find a quiet place where you have room to lay out your prep materials and research. (Tip: Try and print everything out ahead of time, and not be in front of a computer. Free yourself from any added distractions. Facebook can wait…)

  1. Bring the Energy!

WAKE UP! If you need to, drink some coffee (or RedBull) before the interview.

Whether you’re interviewing for head librarian or VP of Sales, you want to seem energetic and eager to start this new job. It’s easy to seem sleepy and board over the phone, so remember to wake up and get excited. Standing up while on the phone is another easy way to inject some energy into your speech.

  1. Know Thyself

Although you probably know what you’ve been up to the past few years, it’s always a good idea to have a copy of your resume, cover letter and any emails you’ve sent to the interviewer near your phone.

Also, take the time to think about the role you’re applying for. Why would you make a good fit? How has your past experience qualified you for this position?

When the phone interviewer says, “tell me about yourself,” you should have your elevator pitch down. Practice in the mirror or in front of a friend. Just like your resume, not EVERYTHING needs to be said. Just give them the polished, “Cliff’s Notes” in no more than two minutes.

  1. Ask Questions

Even though you’ve applied for the job, you still need to show interest. Asking questions and engaging the interviewee is a great way to show motivation and enthusiasm in the position.

If you’ve done your research you’ll probably be able to come up with a few questions. Here are a few sample questions to ask in a phone interview to get the ball rolling:

  • How has this position evolved since it was created?
  • What have past employees done to succeed in this position?
  • How would you describe the learning curve for this position?
  1. Next Steps

“A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, CClosing. Always be closing. ALWAYS BE CLOSING.” – Blake, Glengarry Glen Ross

When you feel the interview coming to a close, start asking about “next steps.” Sometimes the interviewer will do this, but make sure you know where you stand by the end of the call. Ask questions like, “When should I expect to hear back,” or more to the point… “What are the next steps?”

  1. Follow Up

A thank you email goes a long way, so make sure you have a business card or the interviewer’s contact information. Even if you’re not speaking to the hiring manager, you’re still speaking to a “gatekeeper” to the job you want. Be sure to send them a thank you email as soon as you get off the phone.

If you don’t hear anything within a week, it’s ok to send a follow-up email to ask how things are going, or if there are any further questions they had for you. It’s ok to be forward about wanting the job, just don’t be pushy.

If you’re looking for a new job, click here to connect with a Betts Recruiter and start interviewing next week!