Career Insight

What is a Phone Screen? Tips & Tricks for Your Next Recruiter Call

What is a Phone Screen? Tips & Tricks for Your Next Recruiter Call

So, you’ve scored a phone interview and you’re getting ready to impress the hiring manager? First of all, congrats on making it to the first round of the interview and hiring process! You could be well on your way to a brand new tech role. Second, we know just how scary phone screen interviews can be, especially when you’re just starting out in the working world or in a new industry. To make it a little easier on you, we’ve gathered our top tips and tricks for nailing your next recruiter call. 

Here’s what we’ll get into: 

  • What is a phone screen interview? 
  • How do I prepare for my phone screen? 
  • What should I expect in a phone screen interview? 

What is a phone screen interview? 

A phone screen is an initial call with a recruiter or hiring manager. It’s a very common first step in the hiring process. In this phone interview, you (the job candidate) will be asked a series of basic questions about your experience and background, why you want to work in this specific role at this specific company, why you’re leaving your current job, and salary expectations. 

Phone interviews are typically between 15 and 30 minutes long. These calls are typically not conducted by the supervisor you’d be reporting to, so they’re not the best for asking nitty gritty questions about the role and the team you’ll be on. But, they can give you a better grasp of what the company is like as a whole and are a good time to go over the job description. 

How do I prepare for my phone screen? 

There are a handful of things you can do to prepare for your phone screen including researching the company, writing out your elevator pitch, and conducting a practice interview. While a phone screen isn’t the most in-depth portion of the interview process, it’s the first step towards finding the right role to end your job search.

Research the Company

Researching the company can benefit you in your interview in a few ways. First, your research can give you base level knowledge of what the company does and how your role would fit in. Review the job description a few times. You can impress your interviewer by letting them know you took the time to review the website and mission and discuss how that mission speaks to you. Second, your research can give you a peek into company culture, salaries, and potential questions you might face in the interview. You can check out Glassdoor to see reviews from current and previous employees and find salary information for similar roles. This can be especially helpful in figuring out if this is a place you want to work. 

Here’s a quick story to show you how useful your research can be: A friend of mine was getting ready to interview with a company but after one quick Google search, she discovered a number of alarming Glassdoor reviews about how toxic the work environment was. She cancelled her interview and saved both the recruiter’s time and her own.  

Write out an Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a short speech that sums up your experience, what you’re looking for, and why you’d make a great candidate for the role for which you’re applying. Having notes handy during phone interviews will boost your confidence and calm nerves. Physically writing out your pitch can help you get a better idea of which points you’d like to hit during your phone screen. When drafting your elevator pitch, you’ll want to be sure to include the following points: 

  • Your work history and educational background
  • Top skills 
  • What you’re looking for in your next role 

Once you’ve written out your pitch, you’ll want to practice saying it out loud a few times… which brings us to our next tip. 

Conduct Practice Interviews

Practice interviews are essential for nailing the real-life thing. You can practice solo or with a friend or family member. It can be helpful to practice with another person as they can give you feedback on your responses. Maybe you use filler words a little too often or maybe you’re prone to going a little too in-depth on the “tell me about yourself” question. A friend or family member can pick up on those things that we might miss ourselves due to nerves. 

Find a quiet place

When the day of your phone screen arrives, you’ll want to be sure there are no distractions in your space. So, ask loved ones and roommates to stay out of your office for the hour of your interview. Make sure pets are entertained in another room. Be sure to eat and use the bathroom before your call in order to ensure you don’t get distracted on the phone. Finally, you’ll want to get your phone charged up and ready to go. Remember, a good first impression in the interview process is one more step towards ending your job search!

What should I expect in a phone screen interview? 

A phone screening interview is short, so be prepared to give your answers in 60 seconds or less. Your interviewer is looking for a summarized, concise version of your career journey and trying to get a feel for your personality, hopes for your next role, and broader career goals. They’re also trying to see if you might be a good fit for the company culture. Because these interviews require conciseness, practicing can be especially helpful. 

Your interviewer will ask you common interview questions during the phone screen. Here are a few you can practice answering ahead of your call: 

  • Tell me about yourself.

  • How did you find out about the role? 

  • What are your salary requirements? 

  • Why are you leaving your current role? 

  • What attracted you to this position? 

  • When can you start? 

Good luck on your next phone interview! Team Kenzie is cheering you on. Head to our blog for even more job searching tips and tricks. 


Ready to jumpstart your career as a Coder? Learn more about our Software Engineering program, or check out our free beginner’s coding program Kenzie Free.

Alexa Goins

Alexa Goins

Alexa Goins is the Content Marketer at Kenzie Academy. Before she joined the field of higher education marketing, she worked as a journalist and taught English in the South of France. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading non-fiction works, doing embodiment yoga, or planning her next trip to Paris. You can find more of her work at www.alexagoins.com.

Related Reading

  • Date
    June 7, 2021
  • Posted In
    Career Insight
  • Share