Ace the Phone Screen: Top 10 Tips for Making the Next Cut

aquentlogo75x75Editor’s note: This article was originally published by Aquent, AIGA's official sponsor for professional development.

You got the call for that job you’re dying to get. But how do you make a good impression on a phone interview? Here are 10 quick tips.

1. Avoid distractions. Treat a phone screen like any interview. Have someone keep an eye on the kids and take Fido for a walk. Then find a quiet place to talk. And don’t forget to keep some water by the phone. You’ll need it after all that talking!

2. Make a personal connection. Building rapport on the phone can be difficult, but a bit of friendly banter can help you be a more memorable candidate. Before the call, do your homework on the interviewer. You never know who you might know in common, or what industry events you both frequent.

3. Keep it brief. It’s understandable to want to squeeze as much as possible into the interview, but be cognizant of the interviewer’s time. Typical phone screens run 20 to 30 minutes. Provide high-level answers and let them know you’re happy to elaborate if they’d like. It’s OK to ask them along the way if you’re providing the level of detail they’re seeking.

4. Stay on message. It’s easy to meander on the phone. To stay focused, keep a bulleted list of the best selling points you’d like the interviewer to take away from their conversation with you.

5. Adapt to the interviewer’s role. You’ll want to approach an interview differently depending on whether you’re speaking with someone in HR or the hiring manager. Talking to the HR specialist about CSS style sheets, for example, is likely to make their eyes glaze over—but you won’t know it because you’re on the phone. HR likely needs a big picture view of your experience, while the hiring manager is apt to want more specifics.

6. Be engaged. Find out what their hot button issues are. What was the catalyst for hiring for this role? What are the most important attributes for this candidate? What impending changes are occurring in their business?

7. Hold off on discussing money. A phone screen is typically too early in the process to discuss salary. Hiring managers want to know that you’re interested in the role, not just show me the money.

8. Don’t be afraid to close. Interviewers want to know that you have initiative. If you’re interested in the role, let them know this at the end of the call, and ask about next steps. You might even ask how well you fit the role. (Don’t be surprised if their answer is a little vague. The point is to show you’re interested.)

9. Leave room for future conversation. Ask the interviewer for their email address or connect with them on LinkedIn after the interview so you can send additional details about your experience that’s relevant to their needs.

10. Send a thank-you note. Even if you decide you don’t want the job, email a thank-you note to the interviewer. They may keep you in mind for future opportunities.

About the Author: Aquent is a global staffing company dedicated to marketing and creative services organizations and is a leader in helping companies increase marketing capacity by providing the right talent quickly. Its network of more than 400,000 marketing and creative services professionals provides access to a diverse field of talent that includes graphic designers, copywriters, branders, managers and market researchers. Aquent is the Official AIGA Sponsor for Professional Development, serving as a source for creative and design talent as well as providing access to great career opportunities for AIGA members nationwide.