"Ninety-five percent of the time an interview is going to start with a phone screen, and very few people prepare for it," Scorsone said. "Hiring managers are looking to make sure that not only do your skills fit, but that your personality is a good fit for their company, too. That's the crucial part -- they're deciding whether it's worthwhile or not to bring you in for a face-to-face interview."
Navigating a phone interview has its challenges: You don't have the luxury of reading facial expressions to gauge how well the conversation is going. Without the face-to-face interaction, it's also more difficult to determine whether you're answering the hiring manager's questions as expected, Scorsone said. But as awkward and uncertain as phone interviews can feel, you can take steps to make sure you nail it.
[ It's a good idea to refresh your LinkedIn profile once a month. Read more: LinkedIn Tips: 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Profile. ]
1. Research Talking Points
Your first step should be to research both the company and the interviewer.
"Research the company and their trigger events, or what's going on in their world," Scorsone said. "Know … any new products they've launched recently. And with social media so prevalent, you'd be crazy not to do some research on the person who's interviewing you. Go to LinkedIn and look at their accomplishments and try to find something you can relate to and create a common bond."
2. Turn The Interview Into A Conversation
Your goal during the phone interview is to create a connection with your interviewer, and the best way to do that is to turn the interview into more of a conversation, Scorsone said.
"After you've done your research, make a list of your talking points. You don't have to keep the question-and-answer format where the interviewer is asking all the questions and you're doing all the answering," she said. "Flip it so you're asking them some questions. That's one way to transform a sterile interview into a friendly conversation."
Making the interview more conversational gives you an opportunity to better showcase your personality, Scorsone said. Remember that the interviewer wants to determine whether you'll fit in with the team.
3. Tell Stories
One of the most common mistakes job candidates make during a phone interview is using what Scorsone calls "blank statements," such as describing yourself as a "hard worker" or "very knowledgeable with Microsoft technologies." Instead, you need to show the interviewer how you're a hard worker or why you're knowledgeable about Microsoft technologies.