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The biggest issue that plagues candidates in a phone screening is lack of preparation. It is easy to assume that this is just an initial introduction before the real interview, but employers view it as a serious evaluation of a person’s communication skills and work ethic. Coming off unprofessional and careless in a phone screen will immediately show your prospective employer that further interviews are not worth their time.

It is vital that the interview occurs in a time and place where you can be fully devoted to the task. Set aside at least 40 minutes for the call and make sure you have full service or use a land line. Aside from choosing a suitable setting, you must also remember to bring the proper materials. Printing a job description and having a clear outline of why you fit their requirements will show the interviewer that you are well organized and serious about the position. Having this and a note pad to keep track of their questions will prevent you from getting lost and falling behind.

The most important aspect of all this, of course, is your ability to answer their questions clearly and professionally. Phone interviews will often include technical questions that evaluate your skills and it is important to speak slowly and articulate your knowledge properly. You may be the best programmer in the county, but if you cannot express your expertise, the employer will never know. Do not assume that years of experience will automatically prepare you for this. It is wise to write out some talking points and relevant facts in advance. In addition to knowing about your own profession, research your interviewer and their company before the screening. Look them up on LinkedIn and find out more about them so you can tie in your personal experience with their ideology.

Having all your ducks in a row makes a tremendously good impression on the interviewer, and when they are finished asking you questions it is a good idea to ask if they have any concerns with your qualifications. This gives you an opportunity to address it directly and reassure them of your suitability. Finally, end it by asking them what the next step of your hiring process will be. This strong “closer” shows that you are confident in your skill set and are ready to move forward with their company.

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