How to Handle a Telephone Screening Interview

Position postings on major internet job boards tend to generate a large volume of resumes. Once your resume has made it past the first sort it's likely you'll receive a phone call. The purpose of this call is to determine whether you meet the minimum position requirements. The caller wants to make sure a face-to-face meeting is a good use of time for everyone. The caller is looking for specific job related information and is also making judgments about job related personal characteristics.


1. Gather your reference materials together and keep them close.
 - These materials include a copy of your resume, a copy of each job posting or ad to which you've applied and your research notes about the company. Since it's a phone call you can easily refer to these things without the caller being aware of what you're doing.
2. Be prepared to discuss why you're currently looking for work; what skills you have that meet the position requirements; and whether your pay requirements fall within the hiring range. There may also be questions relating to your job stability or why you changed from job to job.
3. Take a short moment to collect yourself before launching into the conversation. The call will generally be made during business hours and may take you by surprise. If that happens ask the caller to hold for a moment while you move to a quiet location. Or ask if you may call the person 'right back'. It is also acceptable to let the call go to voice mail. That will give you time to prepare for the call.
4. Write down the caller's name and use it. Use Mr. and Ms. Don't call the person by her first name unless invited to do so.
5. Know what the caller's role is within the hiring process. You need to know who you're dealing with. If you can't tell by the caller's title ask if she's "the hiring manager". If she isn't she'll be flattered and if she is...good! Keep in mind that the person screening you can only pass you through to the next step or screen you out. She can't hire you.
6. Relate well to the caller. Be pleasant and easy to talk with while remaining business like. Smile when you talk. Don't talk too fast. When you want to emphasize a point don't raise your voice stand up instead. It gives your voice more energy.
7. Set the interview appointment and get the details. Make note of the date and time; the name, title and phone number of the person with whom you'll be meeting; the address or location; and directions to get there (if offered).
8. Before hanging up, thank the caller for her time and consideration. End on the upbeat.



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