How to crush a recruiter phone screen

Author: The Career Passion® Coach |

Blog by The Career Passion® Coach

If you’ve been paying attention, all the news outlets are talking about “scrambling” recruiters who have dozens of jobs to fill because of the Great Resignation.

That’s great news. You *might* get a call from a recruiter – out of the blue – asking you if you would consider applying for a job she* thinks is right for you.

Many of us are better at texting and email these days. The idea of being great on the phone might be concerning or even a little frightening. Here’s how to prepare yourself for that call. (Believe me, if you have a good LinkedIn profile, there WILL be a call.)

  1. Take any call from a recruiter seriously. She is trying to find talent and has already checked you out on LinkedIn, Facebook, and perhaps Indeed. She has seen enough about your achievements to take the time to call. This means you have to answer your phone! If you are on the hunt, answer ALL the strange calls. If you are working in an office setting and in meetings, check your messages frequently and call back in a timely way.
  2. Understand what the recruiter wants. She is looking for a fit between you and the job. If you feel it’s not right for you, say something like this: “I’m interested in the company, but I don’t think that particular job is right for me. I hope you’ll keep me in mind for other opportunities.”
  3. Get the recruiter’s digits. Make sure you ask for an email upfront. Ask her how to spell her name. Ask for the company name. (You can get the phone number from your caller ID.) Recruiters are often working on 7-15 job requisitions at one time. She could be the perfect contact for you two weeks from now when yet another person resigns.
  4. Don’t put the call on speaker. It’s likely you will sound hollow and less personable. It might even be hard to understand your words. Be sure not to wander outside of good range if you pace while you talk.Don’t put the call on speaker.
  5. Be enthusiastic and hold yourself back at the same time. Stand if you are comfortable. It will give your message more power. You might take the reins a little and ask: “Can you tell me the job title and a little about the role so that I can keep my comments concise and to the point?”
  6. Be ready to give your Elevator Pitch. You will need a one-minute (or less) summary of your career. Even if you’re not actively looking, be ready to summarize your career in about 4 sentences. Here’s an example:

    I’ve spent most of my career in corporate communications. I’ve done it all—from grand openings, employee layoffs, shareholder communications, mergers and acquisitions, to crisis communications. I’m especially proud of my ability to take complex financial concepts and make them understandable to our members. I’m ready for a new challenge where I can lead a communications group and be a thought partner to the CEO. (30 seconds)

  7. Slow down. If you talk too fast, you’ll sound nervous. If you have a strong accent, be ready to repeat yourself–more slowly and using slightly different words.
  8. Really listen. Take notes so that you can refer to the job accurately in follow-up communication. The Job Title is critical information – that’s how the recruiter can place you in future calls and emails.
  9. It’s OK to pause. If you get a really tough question, give yourself a few seconds to think about the answer. You can fill the time with: “That’s a really insightful question. I guess I would say…” Adding just this 5-second phrase will give your scrambling brain time to find a great answer.
  10. Be friendly, kind, and considerate. If the job isn’t right for you, offer to connect the recruiter to a friend. She might not have the right job today, but treat her with great respect because all that could change tomorrow.

Many clients spend one full session with me, developing answers to common Phone Screen Interviews. I type up the answers we create together, so that they can “study” before that all-important call. I have a special rate for Interview Prep, and can usually fit you in the same day you call. Let me know if I can help.

On your side,

The Career Passion®️ Coach

PS: You can reach me at (512) 632-5601. I try to answer ALL the stranger calls, because one of them could be YOU.

*56.9% of recruiters are women. It’s a great profession, and they are superb at it. The men rock, too, but the women seem to have their intuition fine-tuned.