In many recruitment processes, employers narrow down the applicant pool before scheduling interviews by conducting phone screens. Not to be confused with a phone interview, phone screens occur after employers and hiring managers have reviewed resumes and cover letters. Typically, those who appear to be qualified for the position will be phone screened and potentially invited to schedule an interview thereafter. While it’s not an interview, it is a sign that you may be qualified for one or more available positions.

What is a phone screen?

A phone screen is a brief phone call for the recruiter to gain insight into your job specifications/requirements. During the call, they will determine what type of role you are targeting whether it is similar to your previous role or something new. They will ask when you would be available to begin an open role – maybe it’s right away, or maybe your current role requires a 4-week notice. Some additional topics to prepare for during a phone screen are as follows:

  • Experience
  • Educational background
  • Salary requirements
  • Benefits packages
  • Commute time and/or remote flexibilities
  • Jobs applied to


A phone screen can last anywhere from 15-20 minutes and will likely be conducted by either a talent acquisitionist, recruiter, or HR professional. The goal is for the open role to be a good fit on both ends which begins by determining your needs as an applicant.


How is it different from an interview?

Those who are deemed qualified for the position after phone screens happen may then be invited to interview. An interview will likely be in-person or over a video call, rather than a simple phone call. Where a phone screen typically covers the surface of your job search, the interview will go more in-depth regarding previous job requirements, software knowledge, etc. The questions asked in an interview will be both informative and behavioral, rather than just a basic assessment. An interview may also include more than one interviewer and can have multiple rounds, whereas a phone screen is between the job seeker and one other individual and only happens once.


How should I prepare for a phone screen?

To put it simply – be prepared with a good idea of what you want before you start submitting applications. If your answer to every question asked on a phone screen is “I’m open,” or “anything,” you likely won’t be considered for the open position, and not because you aren’t qualified, but because a lack of commitment seems prevalent. Remember to be true to what you want in a job. Don’t just answer the questions how you think they want you to because that might wind you up in a role that isn’t a good fit and then you are back to square one. They likely will keep your notes on file even if you’re not a good fit for that specific open role because you may be a good fit for a future open role.


A phone screen is an excellent way for you to verbally state your job requirements/specifications to an HR professional. It goes beyond the submission of your resume and can land you a great role, if not presently, then potentially in the future.

For further assistance in your job search or your search for qualified candidates, please contact us at (518) 275-4816.