How to Prepare for Phone Screening vs. a Face-to-Face Interview


When interviewing for a job, applicants are increasingly finding themselves facing the prospect of a phone screening rather than an in-person meeting. Most often, that’s because the candidate is located some distance from the employer.

Unwilling to pay for the applicant’s travel expenses and hesitant to ask the individual to pay for their own flight and hotel, the hiring manager instead offers the option of a phone interview.

The first thing you need to know is that phone interviews are taken just as seriously as in-person interviews these days. In no way does it mean that you are not valued as much as any other applicant. In fact, you could even take it to mean that you are looked upon quite highly since the employer is going so far as to spend their valuable time interviewing you, despite the distance involved. If you “pass the audition”, they may fly you out for a second, in-person interview. If you ace that screening and get the job, they may even pay your relocation costs. So chin up! Accept the offer of a phone screening and go into it just as professionally as you would an in-person interview.

The most important consideration is the location from which you will participate in the phone interview. It’s critical that you identify a quiet place where you will not be interrupted. If you are calling from home, don’t choose a room where your kids or pets are likely to come barging in. The best choice is a home office, if that option is available to you. If not, a bedroom may work, but only if you will not be disturbed. Turn off any televisions or radios and avoid the temptation to call from your car. If possible, call from a landline, rather than a cell phone, to avoid dropped calls. By all means, steer clear of public places. Even if your favorite place to work is the local Starbucks, this is the time to find an alternate location. You can treat yourself to a Caramel Macchiato after you land the job!

Unless the interview is being conducted over Skype, you won’t be seen by the person on the other end of the line. However, it’s still best to prepare yourself physically just as you would if you were being seen. Dress professionally and comb your hair. Apply your make-up or shave your face. Believe it or not, you will conduct yourself more professionally if you take the time to prepare yourself physically, as well as mentally. Knowing that you look your best will positively influence your demeanor and self-confidence and that will come across in your voice.

When responding to questions, take your time. Be thoughtful about the answers you give and make sure your tone is professional. Smile and relax. Try to avoid an excessive number of “ums” or “uhs”. They will be much more noticeable over the phone than in person. Keep a glass of water on hand in case you need it. The quality of your voice takes on a heightened importance when the interviewer can’t see you.

Lastly, don’t forget to follow up after the call just as you would after an in-person interview. Send a ‘thank you’ letter, stress what you have to bring to the company, and express interest in the job.

For assistance with your job search, contact High Profile today.

CTA