Ace Your Phone Screen

You applied for a job and the employer now wants to schedule a phone screen or a “short phone call.” That’s great news! But what is a phone screen? Is it an interview? How long will it be?  

A phone screening is not the same as an interview. It’s a short conversation, typically 15 to 30 minutes long, that can help hiring managers decide if you will move forward in the hiring process. 

During the phone screen, be prepared to discuss why you applied for the job, your experience and qualifications, and potentially what salary requirements you have. Even though a phone screen is short and won’t include the in-depth questions and scenarios an interview would, it is an opportunity to stand out from the other applicants. Here are some tips to prepare for the conversation. 

Three Things to Do Before your Phone Screen: 


  1. Practice your elevator speech or pitch. Many phone screens begin with, “tell me about yourself.” Have a short statement prepared that starts with a statement about your current position and accomplishments. Then transition to past work experience and/or education and valuable experience or learning you’ve gained. Finish with a statement about why you are interested in this job and how it fits with your career goals. 
  1. Read the job description thoroughly. Create a list of your skills and job duties relevant to the position and the employer. Be sure to cover experiences that match those in the job description—especially if they are mentioned multiple times. Sharing specific accomplishments will make you more memorable. 
  1. Prepare your space for the phone call. Make sure your phone is charged and minimize distractions so you can focus on the call. Have a copy of your resume and a short list of questions accessible during the call. 

Although a phone screen is not a formal interview, doing well during the conversation can mean moving one step closer to employment. For more assistance and to access free workshops about resume writing and interviewing, contact your local West Michigan Works! service center. Find a location near you.