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Hello, It’s Me: Tips & Tricks for Acing Your Phone Screening

young man on phone interview

Skills recruiters conduct phone screenings of many candidates before meeting with them in person. While we do provide an overview of the position/client and answer any questions you may have, what we are really looking to understand during that phone call is: 1) who you are and why you’re interested in the position with this specific client, 2) what your knowledge of the position and the company is, and 3) how you speak of your past experiences and the skills you have in relation to the position. The key points of this phone screen are you and your communication.

Employers like to conduct phone screenings as well. It’s a make-or-break part of the interview process and it determines whether or not you will move forward. Employers are looking to understand the same things that we are at Skills. Before your next phone screening, review the tips and tricks below to ensure that you ace the call and move one step closer to an offer.

Before the Phone Call

  • Review and re-review all the details of the job description. Always pick up the phone knowing exactly what the positions entails.
  • Do your research. Check out this blog post for more tips.
  • Get to a quiet, comfortable space with no distractions. Send away the kids, pets, significant others, family, etc. Turn off the TV and close the door. Background noise makes you seem unprepared and unprofessional.
  • Make sure you’re awake. If you have a time scheduled for the phone screening, don’t roll out of bed 5 minutes before your call.
    • If you do receive a call from a recruiter or hiring manager when you are unprepared, feel free to say, “I’m actually not available to speak at this time. When can we schedule a call?”
  • Put a copy of your resume on a desk or table in front of you or tape it to the wall near your quiet phone space. This will allow you to easily reference specific experiences when answering questions.
  • Have a pen and a notebook/piece of paper next to you for taking notes. If something interesting is said during the call that you want to follow up on later, you will be able to remember what the topic was and really show that you are engaged in the conversation and want to know more. You can also use it to write down questions you want to make sure you ask.

During the Phone Call

  • Be able to answer the question, “Tell me about yourself.” I really love the tips and insights here, so check that out for advice on how to craft the perfect answer so you never get flustered by that question again.
  • Connect your knowledge, skills, and experience to this role. Stress the reason why you are the best person for this job (experience, personality, skills, etc.) and why they are the best place for you (culture, work atmosphere, growth opportunities, etc.). Know every detail/bullet point on your resume and be able to speak about it if asked.
  • Embrace silence – and don’t ramble! The recruiter is probably taking notes, so don’t feel that you need to fill the silence yourself. Answer the question succinctly and give the interviewer time to absorb and respond or move on. A few moments of silence is ok.
  • Smile! Smiling naturally makes you sound enthusiastic and full of positive energy, so project that over the phone by smiling.
  • Don’t feel rushed and take your time. Feel free to take a few seconds to collect your thoughts before answering a question.
  • Have a few questions ready to ask the interviewer. Check out this blog post for some questions you could ask the interviewer.
  • End on a positive note. At the end of your conversation, thank the interviewer by name, reiterate your excitement for this opportunity, and say you are eager to learn more in person.

After the Phone Call

  • Send a follow-up email. This will further show your professionalism, dedication, and enthusiasm for the position. Check out this link for some helpful tips on writing a great follow-up email.

Remember that the goal of the phone screen is to get an in-person interview. You must show your knowledge of the position and the company, and you must be able to communicate your value to the interviewer.

If you follow this advice, you'll be sure to impress even the toughest phone interviewer.


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