Pro Interview Tips: The Phone Screen

Blog Post
The AppNexus Team

If you have been scheduled for a phone screen, congratulations! You have made it past the resume review and are on your way to the next stage of the recruiting process. You can expect to speak with the hiring manager (or another member of your potential team) before coming in for an interview.

You’re probably excited, but may be feeling a bit nervous. Remember that the phone screen is not just an evaluation of your resume and experience, but is also meant to be a conversation between you and a potential new employer. While your interviewer will be looking to gain a high-level understanding of your strengths and interests, it is also a great way for you to explore the opportunity and ensure that you are pursuing the right next step for your career. Here are some tips for how to approach the phone screen and make the most out of your call.

What Interviewers Are Looking For:

  1. Alignment: Do you have the right background for the role? How have you embodied the company’s values? Be sure to highlight your most relevant competencies but also let your personality shine through. At AppNexus, our hiring philosophy also includes hiring for potential, or your ability to learn and master new skills and grow your impact over time. So, even if you are currently rusty or even a beginner in certain areas, remember that your interviewer is on the lookout for your potential to expand your skills and develop into a truly great AppNexian.
  2. Communication Skills: Be sure to listen to what your interviewer is asking – and if you don’t understand, it’s okay to ask for clarification! When answering, speak as clearly and concisely as possible to fully answer the question.
  3. Excitement: We can’t see you, so make sure we hear you! Tone of voice and energy level matter a great deal – it’s noticeable if you’re not engaged in the conversation. Get a good night’s sleep, and let us know that you’re excited about the opportunity and why.

What You Can Do to Prepare:

  1. Location: Identify a private, quiet space beforehand and arrive a few minutes early. As with any call, loud background noise or other interruptions can disrupt the flow of conversation.
  2. Research: At AppNexus, we don’t expect you to be an expert on our business at this stage, but a little background research can go a long way. For example, you should be familiar with the company’s mission and values (see ours here) as well as with the broader industry and any major trends. Ultimately, we want to understand why you are interested in both the specific role and the company at large.
  3. Questions: The phone screen is your opportunity to ask some initial questions before the interview stage, and your earlier research can help you prepare for and drive this portion of the call. Feel free to ask about anything – we often find ourselves responding to questions about company culture, role specifics, or even our personal experiences as AppNexians. As noted before, while the goal of the phone screen is for us to evaluate you, it is also your chance to evaluate us.

The phone screen is ultimately one part of a larger open dialogue between you and a potential new employer. While your interviewer is assessing your fit and level of interest, you as the candidate can also confirm that this is the right next step in your career. With a little preparation beforehand, you can bring your best self to the call.

Best of luck!

About the Author:

Ariel Brodsky is a Sourcer on the AppNexus Talent Acquisition team, where she focuses on identifying and engaging passive talent in the market.  Previously, she was a Human Resources Analyst and graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.  Ariel enjoys country music, bubble tea, and long walks in Central Park.