So what exactly happens after you submit your application materials to a job? How long until you hear back? When will you know if you’re chosen for an interview? Well 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 later on. So while it’s not a guaranteed interview, it’s definitely a great sign!

What Does it Entail?

These types of phone calls usually last anywhere from around fifteen to thirty minutes and will likely be conducted by either a talent acquisition coordinator, recruiter, or HR professional. If you receive an email asking to have a “quick chat” or “brief phone call”, you can assume it’s a phone screen.

A lot of the questions asked during a phone screen are identical for every candidate and overall pretty basic. Most of the information discussed will cover your qualifications as well as why you’re interested in the position, salary requirements, and availability. This general information helps both the employer and you, the candidate, see if this would be a good fit on both ends.

As mentioned before, this is just another way to narrow down the pool of applicants before more comprehensive interviews occur. The goal is to provide the hiring team with a select group of qualified candidates.

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 be a way more in-depth assessment of how you fit the job requirements specifically. The questions asked in an interview will be both informative and behavioral, rather than just a basic assessment. Interviews are also conducted by the hiring manager, or whoever has the final say on who fills the position.

How to Prepare:

If you’re asked to participate in a phone screen, there are some things you can do to get ready. For starters, perfect your pitch. The first thing you’ll be asked will most likely be “tell me about yourself”, so prepare an answer for this. Additionally, doing some research about the company and knowing how your experience or qualifications line up will help you be prepared for the conversation.

After the Phone Screen:

After a phone screen, you should always follow up. A quick thank you email will suffice and show the company you are interested in the opportunity at hand. Additionally, you can take some time to think about the phone call and evaluate whether or not you still think this job is a good fit for you. If it’s not, sending an email withdrawing your application is equally as acceptable! After all, the whole purpose of a phone screen is to see if this is a good fit on both ends!