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5 Phone Interview Mistakes and How to Fix Them

After actually submitting a job application, a phone screen is the first step in landing your dream job. Even though it’s a short and simple process, it can be extremely nerve wracking. After screening hundreds of candidates for POPSUGAR, I’ve gained plenty of insight into what makes a successful phone screen. Here’s what you could be getting wrong and some tips on how to do better.

You’re rambling

Phone screens are simple! All a recruiter needs to hear from you is a basic rundown of your experience and why it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. Prepare a 3-5 minute pitch explaining your career progression, and what led you to apply for this job. You don’t need to give a play-by-play of every single task you did for each job – only highlight projects, tasks, or accomplishments that are directly related to the role you are speaking about.

You’re not showing your enthusiasm

If you really want a job, your enthusiasm will shine through during the conversation. Recruiters read people well, and they speak to countless numbers of people . . . it’s very obvious if this is a role you’re passionate about versus a role that you’re just applying for. I can tell you that out of every single role I’ve screened, I can still remember the enthusiasm I felt from the candidate that ended up landing the job. I can also remember candidates who tell me they want the job because “the office is cool,” “you have good snacks,” or “someone told me it’s a good company.” You can be enthusiastic about the role, the company, the industry – just be enthusiastic. Passion is important.

You aren’t showing off your qualifications

I read plenty of resumes that lead me to believe the candidate can totally do the job at hand. As recruiters, we know what we’re looking for, and we’re only going to take time to talk to people who could be a great fit. Sometimes I’ll be excited about an applicant’s resume, and then once I actually get on the phone with that person, the conversation totally falls flat. I understand why people are shy – phone screens can be awkward AF – but make sure you’re highlighting your relevant experience, even if it doesn’t come up in the conversation. Always remember: if a recruiter is calling you, it means they see something promising in your experience. It’s up to you to show them that they’re right.

You really just might not be qualified . . .

On the flip side, sometimes recruiters will see something on your resume they think makes you qualified for the job, but after your conversation they realize it’s not the case. Don’t sweat this or take it personally, some things just aren’t meant to be. As long as you’ve done your research on the company and the role and have explained why you think you’re a fit, you’ve done everything you can possibly do.

You’re making it weird

Recruiters are typically approachable and personable people, so it’s easy to feel comfortable when you’re talking to them, but don’t play yourself. It’s extremely important to be who you are and show your personality, but there is a fine line between being yourself and going overboard. Always remember that you are interviewing for a job, so keep it professional at all times – no super personal stories or anecdotes, and never say something in a screen that you wouldn’t say to your current boss.

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