Helping Candidates Ace the Phone Screen

In part one of this article series, we shared expert insight into conducting a successful phone screen. In today’s post, we’re continuing the conversation with Darchelle Nass, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Administrative at Addison Group.


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As Nass previously mentioned, everyone screens differently, so, how can recruiters help jobseekers focus on their body language during a phone interview?
“Whether it is your first phone interview, or you are a seasoned expert, you should always be seeking ways to set yourself up for the most successful interaction,” says Nass. “It is a great opportunity to make a strong impression on an HR professional or hiring manager. If this job isn’t for you, you never know what opportunity this individual may be working to fill, in the future.” Nass offers the following tips to help recruiters and jobseekers, alike, prepare for a phone interview.
Consider it a meeting. “Similar to any other meeting, consider the location and arrive early. Set aside a location that you are not distracted and unable to sit with good posture,” says Nass. “Sitting in an office conference room where you don’t feel confident to project your voice can be misinterpreted. When you arrive early, you will feel more settled and prepared. Take a minute to stand and mentally step into the conversation focused on this interaction.”
Be prepared. “There is a unique advantage of a phone screen in that you can have experiences highlighted on a sheet in front of you and questions laid out to guide the conversation,” says Nass. “Take time to research the company and the person that you are meeting with.  Consider a few examples of work you have done and put a few prompts in large font in front of you.” Nass also adds: “Don’t lean over to read this sheet.”
The smile and energy. “Be ready with a smile and a greeting to the interviewer.  You can and do hear a smile over the phone. I’ve never been asked to find a grumpy or cold employee to join an organization. It is important to smile and keep a consistent pace to the conversation. Stand or sit upright as a hunched posture can signify a lack of engagement, confidence, or energy, says Nass.
Clarify and ask “checking” questions. “Just as the interviewer cannot assess your eyes, you cannot use eye cues to determine when enough information has been shared on a topic or where the interviewer is looking for more information,” says Nass. “Answering concisely and asking clarifying questions can show that you are engaged and considerate of the information that the interview is seeking. A good clarifying question at the end of an exchange is, ‘Does that highlight what you were looking for or do you want additional information on this topic?’”

Dress Code

In one CareerBuilder survey, 50% of respondents say if a candidate is dressed inappropriately it’s an instant deal breaker. However, when conducting phone interviews, is a “dress code” still necessary?
“A phone interview is an opportunity to make a positive impression on a hiring authority.  It is proven that when you feel confident you will project the best version of you,” says Nass. “Taking the time to dress in a fashion that you feel confident is important. When you feel positive, that will project whether you are in person or on the phone. There is no need to get fully suited for a phone interview unless this is how you perform best.”
Over the last few posts, Nass has offered some tips and best practices for both recruiters and jobseekers. In our final post, Nass will over some best practices to get candidates to engage with your communications and outreaches.