If you’ve applied to a position with a larger company, either through a recruiter or on your own, the next step is most likely a phone screening with someone from Human Resources. You may be a perfect fit for the position and the strongest candidate, but if you start looking to the in-person interview and fail to prepare for and perform well on the call with HR, it might be game over for you.
To make it to the next step, you must first understand the purpose of that call. HR is a necessary component of the hiring process and must follow a strict internal protocol to track all applicants, weed-out the time-wasters and present only the qualified candidates to the hiring managers for consideration.
If they want to speak with you that means your resume is good enough to consider (more resume tips here), whether you are clearly the only qualified person for the job out of 100 candidates or if you’d be a stretch and they are hoping you can convince them you’re good enough. If you’re perfect, it may be simply a formality so that they can check the box and move forward. Whatever the case, you need to understand the basics of the phone screening so you are prepared to do your best.
There are 3 objectives for the phone screen:
1. To confirm that you are qualified (i.e., your experience lines up with the job description and possibly that both your current salary and salary expectations are in-line with what they have deemed acceptable).
2. To make sure your motivation for pursuing their opportunity is acceptable.
3. To make sure you are able to communicate effectively and that you present yourself professionally.
Knowing this, you can prepare by doing a few things. First, you’ll want to review the job description (and the company and industry profile, as they may test your knowledge to see how prepared you are) and be able to clearly communicate how your experience and career path lines up with it. Next you need to have your story down about why you are pursuing the opportunity, which should generally be about how your employment would be a win-win because of what you can do for the company and how the job aligns perfectly with your career path, and not about how you are running away from a negative situation with your current employer and what they can do for you. Finally, prepare to be outwardly positive and enthusiastic about the opportunity and express gratitude to the interviewer for his or her time and consideration.
While this may seem like (and may very well be) common sense, taking the time to review the game plan will only improve your performance during the call and therefore increase your chances of meeting the hiring manager and getting an offer. Best of luck to you!