Phone Screen Interview

The phone screen interview is increasingly being used as an efficient preliminary tool to determine if you will be invited for a face-to-face interview. It is important to be prepared.

This type of interview is typically a basic interview with behavioral questions that lasts anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. The interviewer's objective is to:

  • Verify the information on your resume.
  • Determine if you fully understand the job and the company you applied to.
  • Learn about your goals and why you want this job and why you want to work for this company.
  • Learn about you and hear you talk. They want to know that you can communicate well.


Ensure that your voicemail message includes your name and that your message is polite and leaves a positive first impression. Be aware that whenever you pick up your phone, the caller might be a phone screen interviewer. Be prepared to talk or ask if you can schedule the phone interview for another time. Otherwise, let the call go to voicemail and call the interviewer back at a more appropriate time.

Keep a copy of your resume, job descriptions of positions applied to, employer research materials, a calendar, pen and paper near the phone as these are items you will need during the phone screen.

Common Questions

Prepare ahead of time answers to common questions such as:

  • Tell me little about yourself.
  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • Why are you applying to our organization?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What were your most significant accomplishments in your last position?
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  • What can you contribute to our organization?
  • Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?

During the Call

  • During the interview, be enthusiastic and assertive. Remember that you do not have the benefit of expression and eye contact to show your excitement and interest. The listener can tell when you are smiling, so smile!
  • Be ready to provide specific examples of projects and accomplishments to demonstrate your skills. These examples can come from current experience or from your past experience. Be prepared to explain how your past experience transfers over into the field you are applying for.
  • Do not speak too fast, drink, chew, or smoke. Make sure you are in a quiet area to reduce or eliminate background noise.
  • End your conversation on a positive note. Keep the focus on how you can benefit the organization. Reinforce that you are very interested in the position and why. The enthusiasm you display could be the deciding factor between you and another candidate.
  • Ask what the next step in the hiring process will be before ending the call.
  • If you didn't note it during the call, ask for the interviewer's name and contact information so that you may follow up with a thank you email, note, or voicemail message. This again demonstrates your interest and enthusiasm.

next Next: The Video Interview