I'm looking for:

The Phone Screen Is The New First Interview

The most important thing job seekers should know about phone screens is–they don’t exist, at least not in the contracting world. The hiring process for most contracting jobs moves at lightning speed, leaving hiring managers no time for casual phone calls. The phone screen is in fact a first interview. If applicants don’t treat it as such, it could be “one and done.”

Here’s how to ace the phone interview:

Play the part

When you pick up the phone, pretend you’re in a face-to-face interview. Even though you could be in your pajamas lounging on the couch, wear business attire and practice good posture. You can even sit in front of a mirror and watch yourself. Your professionalism will transmit through the phone.

Act naturally

Some people come across as unenthusiastic over the phone because they can’t use body language to show who they are. Just because you’re on the phone doesn’t mean you need to be still and quiet. If you’re an animated talker in person, use your hands while speaking. Stand up if you feel more comfortable, and don’t forget to smile!

Find a quiet place

Make sure you’re in a quiet spot to conduct the interview. If you’re on your cell, be sure to have good reception. If you’re on a landline, don’t check email or your phone. Focus on the call and questions.

Be prepared

Have a copy of your resume in front of you. You may also want written copies of your questions and the research you did on the company. Paper documents may be “old school,” but clicking your keyboard during the interview will send a “not interested” signal. You may be checking the company’s service offerings, but your interviewer could think you’re updating your Facebook status.

Listen up

Since you won’t have the advantage of reading the interviewer’s body language, your listening becomes paramount. Focus on the questions and make sure you understand them before you answer. You may also want to wait a beat after the interviewer speaks so you don’t interrupt.


Anticipate the questions you’ll be asked and rehearse your answers. If you’re usually chatty, practice curbing your responses. Typical phone interviews last 20-30 minutes. Use the time to impress the hiring manager with your skills, not talk about the weather.

The speed of the hiring process in the contracting space changes the rules of interviewing for job seekers. Applicants who prepare for the phone “screen” as if it is their only interview can enhance their chance of getting that new job.

Photo credit: Bloom Boutique