3 Keys to a Great Pre-Screen Phone Call

In a world where we communicate via text, email, DM, and video chat, a humble telephone call is often the gateway to securing an in-person interview. A pre-screen phone call is a quick touch-base, usually from someone at an employer’s HR department, to confirm your qualifications and enthusiasm for a role.

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Whether you make phone calls on a daily basis or tend to send incoming calls straight to voicemail, here are some tips to help you get through this first milestone of the interview process:

1. Answer Your Phone & Check Your Email

If you have applied to a job, you need to answer every call that comes through, even if you don’t recognize the number. That may sound like a scary proposition, but it is a simple way to separate yourself from the other applicants who don’t.

The same goes for emails and LinkedIn. Open messages from people you may not know (using common sense to avoid spammers), and check your junk folder to ensure you don’t miss anything important. 

2. This Is Not the Time to Ask Questions

Once you’ve scheduled the pre-screen, it is important to remember the purpose of the call: a quick check to see if you could be a fit. These calls are not meant to be a deep dive review of your experience or a time for you to ask specific questions. Most likely, the person you speak with does not have in-depth knowledge of the department you applied for. Keep your answers short and to-the point, and share your enthusiasm for the role. 

3. Be Prepared

While the person you speak with may not be the one ultimately making the decision to hire you, they do have the power to move you forward in the process. Make sure you’re prepared. 

Before the call, take a bit of time to research the company, review the job description, and think about what questions may come up about your qualifications. Depending on the role, common pre-screen questions could include:

  • Why are you looking for a new role?
  • What interests you in this opportunity?
  • How many years of industry experience do you have?
  • Are you legally able to work in the U.S.?
  • When would you be available to start?
  • What hours are you available to work?
  • What languages are you fluent in?
  • Are you proficient in Microsoft Office? 

Write down your answers—keeping them brief!—so you’re ready for anything and can give your screener every reason to move you along. 

Pre-screens are generally a simple and straightforward way for an employer to confirm you could be a fit for an open role. The person you speak with has already reviewed your resume and was impressed enough to want to talk. Follow these tips, share your enthusiasm for the job, and you’ll be on your way to the next round.

Written by

Benny Spiewak is a Senior Content Strategist at ZipRecruiter. He writes about the latest news and trends in the job market.

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