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Phone Screen versus Phone Interview? Are they different?

So much of a professional interviewing process is now done remotely – often – via telephone and there are slightly different variations on the “reasons for being” for a Phone Screen versus the Phone Interview.

They have the same end goal – help the manager or recruiter make a go/no-go decision but how they get there and how you prepare are often (but not always) totally different.

We have already talked about the Phone Screen – which is usually something you can’t prepare for. It’s that quick call – that breaks down some outstanding questions or clarifications that the recruiter needs in order to decide whether or not you made the slate going to the manager and if so – where you rank. The Phone Screen is also where you provide the information that becomes your first identifiable “hook” the recruiter starts forming around “YOU the Candidate” to keep you straight from other candidates.

Hopefully it’s a good hook.

What’s a “candidate hook” – or “short hand?”

It could be – “Larry, the high energy guy from Utah who has his Cisco Wireless certification and wants to come home” or “Sheila who is very measured and clipped person with that rare technology skill but not very happy to talk to me when I call.”

The recruiter talks to tens of people a week about jobs to try to match the right person to the right role and cultural fit. In a busy week with a hot opening on a key client– the recruiter may have phoned over a hundred. Having spoken to well over 50 people about this job – they will automatically start developing “people short hand” to remember candidates.

Your Phone Screen started that process. If you remembered the tip about trying to stop what you were doing and give it your full attention – you probably helped them develop a positive narrative hook around you. That’s a good thing.

What you don’t want is the recruiter or the hiring manager developing a negative narrative hook around you. It’s an exaggeration – but samples of negative hooks could be “Bill – the candidate who’s dogs don’t stop barking when I call” or “Jeff the candidate who asked right off the bat when his first increase would be”.

The next step – if you were successful – is going to be a more detailed phone interview. You will know you are getting the Phone Interview when either the Recruiter or the Manager calls you and asks to schedule it very specifically or they call and ask when would be a good time to talk for about a half an hour. Anytime you are getting a scheduled call for a half an hour? That’s an interview – the recruiter just is utilizing a casual manner to keep it feeling informal. It is still an interview that you will be selected or deselected as a result of your answers and failing to remember that could cost you the job.

Phone interviews are something that you need to do well on – in order to win a chance at an on-site interview. There are lots of great articles on interviewing over the phone – so no there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

I’ve enclosed links to my favorite articles that I pass along when people ask me for advice on how to survive a Phone Interview. I hope they help!

Links that will take you off-page:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2012/02/07/how-to-ace-a-job-interview-on-the-phone/

https://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-47540785/ace-your-phone-interview-21-quick–simple-tips/

https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2011/06/14/17-tips-to-ace-your-next-phone-interview