Great news. You saw a job you want, sent in a resume, and the employer contacted you for a screening phone interview. You’re looking to do well when they call and you have to answer their questions, but what exactly are they looking for in that phone interview?
I’m glad you asked. It will help you to understand what’s behind the employer’s questions – and also how to answer them in a way that increases your chances of being selected for that all-important in-person job interview!
So what are employers looking for in a phone interview?
Although it would be great, employers are not going to ask every single candidate who applies to come in for an interview. So phone interviews let the employer screen the most likely candidates (based on their resume / cover letter) to see if they’re a good fit for the job and company.
So while I can’t speak for every interviewer, here are some basic things that I look for when I speak with potential candidates:
- An easy to understand voice with some strength and energy behind it
- Someone who listens carefully and responds naturally to what I actually asked (not resorting to some “perfect” canned answer)
- A response that shows clarity of thought with a logical, well-reasoned flow of ideas
- A feeling that they have the skills & experience that they say they do on their resume and in their cover letter
- A sense of what they might be like to work with on a daily basis (hopefully pleasant, positive and reliable)
Please take time to also read these articles to help prepare you for a screening call … and hopefully let your preparation help calm your nerves!
Just so you know…
The length of a phone interview doesn’t always tell you whether it was successful. Sometimes the interviewer simply wants to get a quick feel for who you are. But some may probe more deeply, so don’t be shocked if it turns into a longer interview-like screening to make sure you really have the skills you say you do.
A short one doesn’t mean you’re out if the running. And a long one doesn’t mean you’ll get the in-person interview. While some screeners will give candidates they’re interested in a slight indication they may get called in, but until all phone screenings are complete and results have been discussed, even they may not yet know who they will be recommending for the next step.
So just do your best. It’s all anyone can ever do. And remember to keep looking for other jobs, even while you’re waiting to hear if you made it past your phone interview. You never know when the right fit will find you!
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