Phone screen interview

Ace that Phone Screen!

You opened your email and this is what it read as:

"Hi there! We'd like to schedule a phone screen with you to learn more about your qualifications for the role. What does your availability look like this/next week?"

First off all, CONGRATS!! TECH POD IS VERY PROUD OF YOU! If you're not sure how to best prepare for the phone screen, we are here with 5 tips to help you ace that phone screen.

Practice, Practice, Practice Your Elevator Pitch

"Tell me about yourself." A question that you will get asked in almost all interviews. This is your chance to make a good impression on the recruiter with your elevator pitch. You want to sound like you're prepared, but not a robot memorizing scripts.

Here are a few things you want to nail down in your elevator pitch:

  • Talk about what your current role and what you do/major if you're still in school
  • Tell the recruiter a little of what you did in your past experience and how it's relevant to the role you're applying to.
  • What you're looking to do next and how you're a good cultural fit.

"I’m a Senior studying Business at UC Berkeley. I’d describe myself as someone who loves problem solving, so I thrive in a fast-pased, startup environment I also have a strong background in writing and presentation, which has helped my success in previous marketing positions. And I would be happy to share more about those prior marketing positions if you'd like."

Know Your Resume In-and-Out

The recruiter will very likely to ask you to walk through your resume or they will ask about a specific experience, such as “I see you interned at Salesforce last summer, could you tell me more about that experience?”

To answer this question, you can follow the WHALE format:

  • W
  • H
  • A
  • L
  • E

Example response:

"Last summer, I had the opportunity to work as an APMM at Salesforce on the small to medium business team. My project for the summer was leading outreach to small businesses to learn about what they were struggling with during the pandemic, how Salesforce helped them, if at all, and what else Salesforce could do to help. I began by conducting research on the state of small businesses during this time, as well as the industries and specific companies I was speaking with. After practice interviews, I led calls with these customers themselves. At the end, I compiled 21 of these stories into “customer snapshots” that were used across all marketing channels. In addition, I led a “Lunch and Learn” presentation to the whole businesses unit, where I shared the insights I gained from these customers and shared actionable steps Salesforce could take to help these small businesses more during this time."

Prepare Skills-Based Questions

Make sure you are prepared for a few behavioral questions as well. Tech companies look for individuals who are organized, self-starter, a team-player and a problem solver, so be prepared to show the recruiter that you have all these skills. You can utilize the WHALE method again to answer these skills-based questions. Some example questions recruiters might ask are:

  • Have you received a task/project where you don't know where to start and how did go navigate the ambiguity?
  • Describe a time when you faced an unexpected challenge at work.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to change your planned course of action at the last moment. How did you handle this situation.
  • What is your way of managing a project from beginning to end?
  • How do you deal with receiving feedback?

Research the Company Thoroughly

The recruiter will be curious to know why you applied to their specific tech company or startup as well as the position. Thorough research about the company is critical because company culture is heavily emphasized in the tech industry. They want to see if you're a good fit to their culture.

Pro-tip: see if you can tie to recent news to impress the recruiters ;).

Have Good Questions to Ask

Recruiters will not know too much about the specific team or the role itself. You can reserve role-specific or team-specific questions for the hiring managers. You can ask the recruiters questions about the company, the company culture or their experience working there. Here are some example questions you can ask:

  • How do you find the company culture here?
  • What do you like most bout working for the company?
  • What is the expected hiring timeline?
  • I see that the company is committed to DEI, what are some initiatives that the company has been working on to promote this?
  • Why did you decide to join the company?

There you have it. Now go ace that interview and GOOD LUCK!

Pro-tip: Don't forget to send a thank-you email within 24 hours and reiterate your interest in the position as well as the role.

Finished Reading?

Reflection Questions

  1. What are some questions do you think the recruiter might ask you based on the job description?
  2. How will you allocate time to practice your elevator pitch and the interivew?

Annie Trieu
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