The phone rings just as you are about to sit down for dinner, butthis time it’s not a pesky telemarketer – it’s a companyrecruiter calling. You’ve been caught off-guard!

The telephone “screen call” can come at any time – day or night.Some interviewers find evenings the best time to catch people athome, where they will be able to talk more candidly. Therefore,you should be on-call and prepared to receive a telephoneinterview at any time.

Telephone interviews, typically conducted by a human resourcesstaff member or a hired recruiter, are used as screening tools.By asking key questions, the interviewer determines whether ornot it is worthwhile to pursue you further as a candidate. Thescreenings may consist of a few quick questions or as much as aone-hour grilling.

Some general questions you might expect in a telephone screeningare:

1. Why are you leaving your current job?
2. What kind of salary/job are you looking for?
3. Tell me three adjectives that describe you.
4. Tell me about a time when you had to solve a problem usingcreativity.
5. Do you have any questions for me?

If there is some particular skill that qualifies you for a job,for example technical skills or languages, there may be somequalifying questions about the “tools of the trade.”Even though you cannot control the timing of these calls, thereare some steps that you can take to not be caught off-guard.

1. Get organized. Set aside your materials as though you weregoing to a face-to-face interview. Have a folder with jobpostings or ads you have answered, along with companyinformation. If you have several versions of your resume, attachthe one relevant to the particular job posting. Keep this folderin a specific place so you can get to it in less than a minute.Tell the caller to hold and then grab your folder.

2. Be prepared. This is key to any interview, but for thetelephone interview it is essential. Practice with a taperecorder to hear the level of enthusiasm in your voice. The keyto telephone interviews is projecting an upbeat image through thesound of your voice and the words you use.

3. Know what they are looking for. Look over the job descriptionto see what the company is seeking in a candidate. If you don'thave a good description, look at other postings of similarpositions to see what is being asked for. Compare what you haveto offer against what they are looking for. Be ready to let theinterviewer know what a good match you are for the position.

4. Alert the household. Be sure everyone in your household –children, roommates, etc., are aware that you will be receivingcalls from recruiters and companies. The phone should be answeredin a polite, professional manner. While you’re at it, make sureyour voice mail message is also professional and upbeat.

Getting through this screening is critical for advancing to thenext step: the face-to-face interview. This puts added pressureon you to present yourself in a positive, focused manner. If youattempt to wing this call, you may reach a dead end in theprocess. By organizing and preparing you will feel less stresswhen these calls do come.

Author's Bio: 

Carole Martin is a celebrated author, trainer, and an interview coach.Her books, "Interview Fitness Training Workbook" and "Boost YourInterview IQ" (McGraw Hill) have sold thousands of copies world-wide.Receive Carole's FREE job interview tips by visiting her web site at: