Prepare for a Phone Screen

Back in March, I posted an entry for hiring managers on how to develop a phone screen for candidates. Here’s a tip for candidates on how to prepare for a phone screen. (Hiring managers, most of this applies to you too 🙂

  • Make sure you suggest a few alternative times for a phone screen. Not all hiring managers can call you at 7:10pm on Wednesday.
  • When the hiring manager calls, make sure you can find some privacy and a comfortable place to sit and talk. Stop doing the dishes, watching TV, yelling at the kids, whatever. If you can’t create a private quiet space, consider asking to reschedule the phone screen. I once tried to call someone who was attempting bathe a small child. I happily called back in an hour.
  • Use a headset if you have one, when you speak on the phone. If you’re like many of us, you use your hands to gesture as you talk. Or, you might want to take notes. A headset frees up your hands, so you’ll sound normal (and animated).
  • Hopefully, the hiring manager will ask the elimination questions first, and then will start with the behavior-description questions. This is your chance to shine with your stories. (Remember the Practice Before Interviewing post)
  • If the hiring manager asks about money early in the phone screen, decide if you want to postpone the discussion. If you don’t want to talk about money early, say something like this: “I’d really like to learn more about my fit for the job before we talk about money, ok? I’m flexible on salary.” But at the end of the phone screen, when the hiring manager asks about money, be honest about your salary (and whatever else you received as compensation.)

If you’ve thought about the value you provide to the organization, you have some stories, and a comfortable place to talk, your phone screens should be a breeze.

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