Free resource: The phone screen interview prep sheet

In my work I have interviewed hundreds of candidates and trained both job seekers and hiring managers on how to prepare for interviews, and yet I’d still tell you that I might be one of the worst interviewees around. When asked to talk about myself, I still get nervous (the sweaty palms!), I still flub my words, and I still freeze up and forget all the amazing experiences I was going to talk about. If you can relate, I’ve got the perfect tool for you below, and you can download it absolutely free!

My phone screen prep sheet is meant to help you think through the answers to questions you’ll almost certainly be asked in the initial round of interviews. This is usually when you get your first chance to pitch yourself to the recruiter or hiring manager, and you’ve got to make a good first impression to get to the next step. You have to be able to talk about what you do, why you’re a natural fit for the role, and if you can’t clearly articulate your skill set, you might not get another chance to convince them. I don’t say this to make you nervous (promise!), but just to share how critical it is that you can get your basic message across to the interviewer.

The prep sheet covers several areas of conversation that are likely to be part of the initial phone screen, so that you can write down your notes in advance and quickly refer back to it during your conversation. This way you don’t get lost rambling on and on and you don’t forget all the important things you wanted to share. Consider it a cheat sheet of sorts. Here’s how to use it:

  • Jot down the company, the job title, and the name of the person you’ll be talking with so you keep them straight (particularly helpful if you’re applying to multiple different opportunities) and can refer to the interviewer by name (build that connection).

  • In the “About Me” section, write out your “elevator pitch” so you’re prepared to give a brief history of your experience and why you’re now interested in this opportunity.

  • Under “About the Company,” make sure you have a quick description of what this company does and who their customer is so you have an intelligible answer when the recruiter asks you what you know about them. Even if you think you understand what the company does, make sure you can summarize it in 2-3 sentences. Believe me, I have flubbed this before and if you’re applying for a job, you need to be able to show you understand the basics of the business.

  • Under “What I Do Currently,” summarize your role and what your primary responsibilities are as well as the impact your role has on the company. Don’t just assume they will know from your title.

  • Under “Why I Should Be Considered For This Job,” you need to have 3-4 strong points ready to address this question. Why are you the person they should invest in?

  • Next, you need to share “Specific Examples of Relevant Work/Projects.” This is different from what you do. You need to have 4-5 examples of real projects or other things you have done that directly align with this job to show you have the experience they’re looking for. Be ready to expand with details if needed.

  • Finally, under “Questions I Have,” make sure you have 3-4 solid questions to ask the interviewer about the role or the company. If there’s anything you’re particularly interested in knowing or that would be a deal-breaker for you, write it down so you don’t forget to ask.

And there you have it! While it certainly doesn’t cover every question you’ll get, it’s focused on the pieces that you’ll almost certainly get and that you might easily have a hard time talking about in the moment. Just jot down your notes so you can have them with you for the moment you inevitably forget how to talk about what you do or any relevant experience you’ve had (happens to the best of us). This works well for the phone screen because the interviewer can’t see you, so take advantage of that and be prepared to blow them away!