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Krystin McDermott
Recruiting Specialist, Accenture Digital and Fjord Interactive
August 20, 2018

5 Ways to Get Past the “Gatekeeper” on a Phone Interview

Phone Interview

You crafted the perfect resume; it stood out from the rest. Now it’s time for the next step: the phone interview screening.

As a recruiter, I’ve often heard candidates refer to my colleagues and me as “gatekeepers.” We review tons of resumes every day, and then screen candidates via a phone call.

Your time is as valuable as ours, and we want you to be successful. So, how do you get past the phone interview screen and to the hiring manager?

These five tips can help you get past the screening:

  • Do your research.
    Often, recruiters start the conversation by asking what you know about their company. When candidates say they “don’t know anything,” it appears that you’re not very interested. This is obviously not a good way to start.

    Candidates who stand out take the time to review our website, research the type of work we do and describe their understanding of the role. It’s always a good idea to ask the recruiter if there are additional links or sites that you should review to better understand the company and organization prior to any further conversations.

  • Speak succinctly about your background.
    When asked to give a high-level overview of your qualifications, be prepared to talk through your career history in a succinct manner. We want to hear about your previous roles, why you left and what you’ve done in your career that relates to the job opening.

    Be concise, but go into more detail if requested. We will have follow-up questions once you’re done speaking, most of which come from discussions with the hiring managers. These questions are meant to delve into areas that are most applicable to the role.

    If you’re unclear about a question, just ask! We are always happy to clarify, which can help you provide a better response to the question.

  • Make a connection.
    In addition to reviewing a hefty pile of resumes daily, we also participate in multiple calls with candidates throughout the day. While phone interview screens are a way of determining right fit for the position, they’re also about establishing a connection and fit with the company.

    The most successful candidate calls feel more like a conversation than an interview. You can make a connection with your recruiter by reviewing their profile ahead of time. Ask why they enjoy working for the company and what keeps them there.

    Asking questions is always encouraged, but we may not have all the answers that a hiring manager would have. If we don’t know the answer to specific, detailed questions, we will either find out for you or we will direct you to ask the hiring manager during the next interview stage.

    Oh, and don’t forget to smile. Even though we can’t see you, smiling will make you feel positive and confident, which often radiates over the phone.

  • What’s next?
    Asking about the next steps in the process is expected. We can tell you when you can expect a response from us, what the next step will be and even give you an outline of the overall interview process.

    Ask if the recruiter has further questions or any concerns about your qualifications that may prevent you from moving forward in the process. Often, we can provide real-time feedback that will help you move to the next level.

    If you don’t hear back from us, reach out! Daily emails are not encouraged, but if we give you a specific time frame, set a reminder on your calendar to follow up with us.

  • A short thank you can go a long way.
    As a recruiter, I can tell you that thank you notes from candidates after phone interviews are few and far between. Sending a follow-up note expressing your interest and thanking us for our time can go a long way.

    And if you felt that you didn’t answer a question in the best way during the phone call, use the note to shed more light on why you feel you’re a good fit for the opportunity.

If you don’t end up landing the next step in the interview process, don’t get discouraged. Ask if it’s okay to follow up when you see additional roles within the organization that may be better aligned to your qualifications.

Great talent is hard to come by, and if you’ve created a lasting impression with recruiters, we’re likely to reach out in the future. Our goal is to stay connected to great talent and help you achieve your career goals. The recruiting process in large organizations like Accenture may seem difficult to navigate, but we are here to help you find a role that best suits you—and us.

Ready to do work that’s transforming the way the world works and lives? Find an opportunity with Accenture.

Copyright © 2018 Accenture. All rights reserved. Accenture, its logo, and High performance. Delivered. are trademarks of Accenture.

This document makes descriptive reference to trademarks that may be owned by others. The use of such trademarks herein is not an assertion of ownership of such trademarks by Accenture and is not intended to represent or imply the existence of an association between Accenture and the lawful owners of such trademarks.



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Liliana Combis • August 30, 2018

Krystin, thanks a lot for your advice. Although I'm an experienced worker, and I have been in so many interviews over the years, it's really helpful to review these tips and new approaches. What interested me most was your comment about the feeling that we didn't answer a question in the best way, about using the note to reduce the damage by standing out why we are good for the position. I'm looking for new opportunities, so thank you, I hope to apply your advice next time.

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