How to Get Past the Phone Screen

Companies frequently start the interview process via phone, as a way to save time by pre-qualifying your interest and expertise. So how do you get past the dreaded phone screen?

Here are four tips to help you master the telephone interview.

1. Find a Quiet Place. On a phone interview, you only have one tool of communication: your voice. The interviewer’s first impression of you will be affected by all the sounds coming through the phone, so remove yourself from background noise and other distractions. Don’t carry on a phone interview outside on a windy day or near a busy intersection. If you plan to take the call on your cell phone, be sure to find an area where you’ll have clear, steady reception.

2. Schedule the Phone Interview. If you can’t speak comfortably or easily when the interviewer first calls you, ask the interviewer to schedule a specific time for the actual interview. Be sure to define who will call who–you should offer to call the company. That way, you can be fully prepared and in a situation where you can speak without interruptions.

3. Get on Your Feet. During the call, stand up, walk around and smile. All of these things make a big difference in the projection and quality of your voice. Just don’t do anything that will get you out of breath!

4. Ask About the Next Step. At the conclusion of the call, if the interviewer doesn’t offer this information, ask about next steps and the timing of their hiring process. This shows that you are interested in the job and also gives you an idea of what to expect. If you feel the interview went well, mention that you’d like a face-to-face interview–and give a reason, such as a subject you’d like to cover in more depth, or something in your portfolio you’d like to show them.