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Inspired BlogGET HIRED: Ace the Phone Screen

In this series, our talent team shares personal insight into the hiring process – from perfecting your resume to negotiating that sweet, sweet job offer.
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If you’ve made it this far, your resume stood out from literally hundreds of other candidates. Congrats! Now, it’s time to make an equally-impressive first impression.

(Tip: don’t attempt to say that in the interview.)

First, what exactly IS a phone screen?

A phone screen is a short conversation – roughly 30 minutes – that gives you a chance to introduce yourself, meet someone (or multiple someones) from the hiring team, and ask all those burning questions about the company you’ve applied to work for. 

Don’t overthink it. Do show up with a positive attitude, ask engaging questions, and be yourself!

Why start with a phone call?

At Red Ventures, the main purpose of a phone interview is to get to know you (the candidate). Your resume caught our attention, and now we want to know more about your work experience, what motivates you, and what you’re looking for in your next role.

That said, don’t expect to do all the talking. This step also gives us (the hiring team) a chance to further explain who we are as a company, where we’re going next, and where you’ll fit into that journey. 

What we’re looking for:

In addition to establishing that you are a real person who’s really interested in this role, we want to make sure that you’re a good fit for our organization. (NOTE: This works both ways – just as we want to ensure you’ll thrive in our workplace, you should establish whether our workplace aligns with your values and goals.) 

In the process of getting to know you, our hiring team will be on high alert for a specific set of qualities that often characterize our top-performing employees. (We’ll dive into those in a second.) But first, we’ll share five things ANYONE can do to stand out during a phone interview.

5 Ways to Ace Your Phone Screen

1. Be authentic and engaged.

MYTH BUSTED: We aren’t grading this interview with an answer key. There’s no “magic phrase” that’ll guarantee you an onsite interview, and you won’t get black-listed for not asking the “right” questions. This conversation is all about showing us you’re excited about this job opportunity and helping us better understand the skills and experiences you outlined on your resume. Just be you!

2. Paint a clear picture of your work experience.

Be prepared to walk through your resume at a high level, with extra details about your most recent role. We want to know what you’ve accomplished, how you’ve overcome challenges, and what you’re looking for with this career move. Whatever you do, don’t speak poorly about your current company! That’s an automatic red flag.

3. Know your stuff.

Come into this conversation with a clear, thoughtful answer to the question, “why do you want to work for this company?” To get that answer, we recommend doing some research. Start by browsing the company’s official website and social media channels… and don’t stop ‘til you have a solid understanding of its history, values, mission, and areas of impact within your industry. We certainly don’t expect you to know everything – but coming in with extra context shows us you’re serious (and gives you more to talk about!)

4. Be concise and listen carefully.

Phone screens are typically brief conversations, so avoid being long-winded. On the flip side, answers that come off as rushed or oversimplified can make you sound uninterested. If you’re nervous, prepare answers to common interview questions beforehand – and practice your elevator pitch of major accomplishments from your last role. As long as you present your thoughts in a concise manner and listen carefully, you won’t run into trouble here.

5. Show humility and hunger.

If the RV hiring team had a book club, we’d just read Patrick Leonci’s The Ideal Team Player over and over again. (Yes – it’s really that good! Add it to your reading list.) But for now, we’ll paraphrase: Great companies are always in search of great team players. Great team players are almost always humble, hungry, and smart. Demonstrate that you’ve got all three virtues, and you’ll make an unforgettable first impression.

The question behind the questions

Remember when we mentioned that specific set of qualities our talent team is trained to look for? Let’s cover those:

1. Are you a results driver?

You put in more than “effort” – you bring new ideas to the table, leverage your strengths, exhibit a bias-to-action, and accomplish amazing work that moves the needle forward.

2. Are you an accountable team player

You take full responsibility for your contributions (without worrying about getting credit), lean into change, and consistently go above and beyond what’s expected. Your colleagues can count on you to bring your best to work every day.

3. Are you passionate

You’re intellectually curious, you celebrate big wins, and you have a positive attitude that makes you a great person to work with. You can’t fake this one.

4. Are you an influential communicator

Being an influential communicator isn’t just about being an A+ public speaker (though that certainly doesn’t hurt!) Instead, this means you’re candid and direct, you effectively communicate your ideas, and you listen to new ideas with an open mind. 

5. Are you a development driver

You push yourself AND your teammates to get better every day by seeking out learning opportunities, providing effective feedback, and having the humility to learn from anyone – anywhere.

These traits are absolutely key to success at any fast-paced, high-growth work environment. (Especially those that specialize in building better end-to-end digital experiences for consumers and brands.)

Check back for the third installment in our GET HIRED series… where we reveal secret insight into a successful onsite. Interview, that is.

About the Author:
Allie Kleinman

Allie Kleinman is a Technical Recruiting Coordinator at Red Ventures. She is a Wake Forest alum, Greensboro native, and Marie Kondo prodigy!

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