Posted By: Deanna DeBenedictis

With more qualified job candidates than they can realistically interview, more and more employers are relying on phone screens to narrow down their options, confirm logistics such as availability and position understanding, and make candidate resume clarifications. While phone screens are somewhat of a norm in the hiring process nowadays, they can still be quite intimidating for applicants at the thought of one call making or breaking your candidacy. Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing for a phone screen:

DO make sure that you have a good phone connection…
This is of the utmost importance, especially if you are planning to speak with your potential employer on a cellular device. No connection = no phone screen, so make sure that you can partake in the phone screen in a location with stable service.

…but DON'T wait until the very last second to do so!
Again, this is something that you want to have figured out well ahead of time so that you're not having issues initializing the call or risking the call dropping mid-phone screen. Phone screens are enough of a challenge without added inconveniences.

DO take notes during the phone screen…
The employer will most likely be giving you important information such as contact information, position details, or instructions for the next steps of the hiring process, so it's important to have these things on hand for later usage.

…but DON'T take the call on speakerphone!
It will be very tempting to do so, especially if you're taking notes, however you risk your potential employer not being able to hear you speaking on the other line due to the static that tends to come with speakerphone. You also raise the risk of background noise and activity interfering with your phone screen.

DO prepare for the phone screen ahead of time…
Make sure to make your way into a quiet environment in which you are able to focus on the phone screen and nothing else with enough time to settle in and get your materials ready. Having a phone screen take place in a bustling, populated area or while you're on the go is not the greatest idea.

…but DON'T wait to call (if you're the one calling the employer)!
It's good to get in the habit of calling in at 11:58a.m. if your phone screen is scheduled for 12:00p.m. This shows responsibility, reliability, and punctuality, and it's a lot more professional to be early than it is to be late.

DO have information about your previous experience prepared…
Glance at your resume for jumping-off points and, without rambling too much, give details on what you've done, what your skill-sets are, and what you would like to be doing. Employers want to know if you're worth selecting for an in-person interview, so tell them everything they want to know about you.

…but DON'T read it verbatim off of a resume!
Employers will know. The odds are high that they will be looking at a copy of your resume on the other end as well, and whether we intend to or not, the tone of our voices definitely changes when reading something word-for-word off of a document. You don't want to sound robotic or overly-rehearsed.

DO ask questions…
It's important to have a solid understanding of what responsibilities for the position entail as well as whether or not the company principles and working environment line up with what you're looking for. You won't necessarily get every detail until later in the hiring process, but it's nice to have some idea.

…but DON'T ask about money right away!
Asking about pay in what's most likely your first conversation with the employer is simply too early in the hiring process and not necessarily appropriate. It's a big question. If the employer chooses to move forward with your candidacy, they will definitely lay out "what's in it for you," so to speak.

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