Your resume has passed the complicated application tracking system of FAANG, and you have received an email from the recruiter for an initial phone screen interview.
What is a phone screen interview, and what role does it play in the hiring process?
A phone screening interview is a brief job interview to determine whether you're a qualified applicant. In most cases, it includes a quick review of your background and a few questions around your qualifications, skills, interests, and projects. In some cases, the interviewer may also want to know your salary expectations and how soon you can join them.
Sounds simple enough?
But don’t take them for granted! Phone screen interviews are just as important as onsite or in-person interviews — adequately preparing for them and doing well can have a positive impact on your success.
However, before you start preparing, you must understand what to expect at FAANG phone screen interviews.
Phone Screen Interview at Facebook
Recruiters at Facebook are looking to confirm that you are the right fit for a particular role. Hence, be prepared to explain your background and why you’ll be a good fit at Facebook. You should expect typical behavioral questions like:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why Facebook?
- Tell me about your current day-to-day as a developer.
If you get past this first HR phone screen round, the recruiter will help schedule your first technical phone screen with a Facebook engineer.
Note: A great thing about Facebook is that it is very transparent about its recruiting process. Your HR contact will walk you through the remaining steps in the hiring process and share an email with resources you can use to prepare.
Phone Screen Interview at Amazon
The phone screen interview at Amazon lasts about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Typically, the recruiter will assess your interest and fit for the role. They will also ask basic questions about your background and work experience.
The recruiter will then help schedule the first interview, which will be conducted over the phone.
The next phone screen will typically be with your hiring manager and senior members of the product team. You can expect behavioral questions like:
- Tell me about yourself
- Why Amazon?
- Tell me about a feature or product you launched from start to finish.
Note: Amazon gives significant importance to its Leadership Principles throughout the interview. The company has a strong focus on customer obsession. So, go through their Leadership Principles carefully before your interview.
Phone Screen Interview at Apple
There are two rounds of screening at Apple done over a 30-minute informal phone call. The first call is from the internal recruiter, followed by the team lead for the division that you applied to. The objective of the call is to brief the candidate about the hiring process. You can expect discussions around your:
- Academic achievements
- Your interests.
Phone Screen Interview at Netflix
Your initial phone screen at Netflix will be roughly 30 minutes long, where the recruiter will dig into your resume and gauge your interests and enthusiasm for Netflix and the position.
You may have one more pre-screen with a hiring manager, and this will be primarily focused on:
- Past projects you’ve worked on
- Culture fit questions
- A few questions testing your knowledge of an area you claim to be an expert in (e.g., Python)
Note: Before the phone call, the recruiter will send you over their core values presentation slide (can be found on their website too). This is a must-read as Netflix interviews are known for focusing heavily on culture fit.
Phone Screen Interview at Google
The technical phone interview at Google follows an initial phone screening, conducted by a recruiter to glean background information about your profile, the role applied for, and reasons for the same. At this stage, you will be assessed based on your profile and prospective role requirements.
Once shortlisted, you will be required to complete an online survey form and choose interview dates as well as the programming language you would like to use for the interview.
Note: On confirming an interview date, recruiters usually email candidates with information on the upcoming interview process, along with resources such as text documents and videos to prepare for the same.
Tips to Prepare for a Phone Screen Interview at FAANG
Now that you know what phone screen interviews at FAANG typically entail, here are a few tips to help you prepare for them:
Before the Interview
- Know Your Company
It is essential that you do your research on the company’s values, goals, and culture. Look at the company’s website, social media pages, and other relevant channels of information to develop a thorough understanding of what your prospective role will entail.
Knowing details such as the company’s recent rounds of funding, or recent achievements that made the news, can help you answer common questions, such as “What do you know about the company?”, effectively.
- Reschedule Your Interview, If Necessary, in Advance
If you can't attend your interview, inform the interviewer in advance and reschedule it. Fix a time that’s convenient for both you and the interviewer. Intimating your interviewer in advance eliminates unnecessary awkwardness.
- Review Your Job Description
This is necessary if you hope to ace your phone screen interview. A typical job description tells you exactly what the company is looking for in you as a candidate. It also gives you a fair understanding of what skills are needed for the job based on which you can assess if you can effectively handle these responsibilities.
If there are requirements that match your strengths, in the job description, you should lay emphasis on these specific capabilities during the interview. For instance, if a job description contains requirements such as “proven ability to manage a team, preferably of 10+ people,” you should highlight any past experience you have had handling a team to show you are well-suited for the role.
- Check Your Tools
Ensure your phone is adequately charged. You really don’t want to be addressing problems with your phone during your interview. If you plan to use earphones, test them before the interview to avoid any snags. If you plan to use bluetooth headphones, make sure they’re charged.
Have an alternate number ready so the interviewer can reach you immediately if you experience network trouble.
- Ensure You Have Answers to Commonly Asked Questions
Research the most commonly asked phone screen interview questions and have your answers ready. Remember, the only way a recruiter can gauge how good you actually are is by evaluating your answers. Doing your research also helps build your confidence as you’ll know what to expect and how to answer effectively.
- Ensure There Are No Sources of Distraction
This is a very important point to remember. Eliminate all forms of distraction during the interview, however insignificant. Especially, remember to keep all electronic gadgets away and find a quiet environment.
Unwanted distractions have a negative impact on the interview process. Candidates are often caught off-guard by background noises or activities while engaging with the interviewer.
During the interview
- Dress and Act Professionally
Dressing up professionally will boost your confidence in the interview.
During the interview, it is extremely important to be respectful, kind and professional during the course of your interview. Adopting a professional tone can pitch the odds in your favor when recruiters make their final decision.
Also, smile appropriately when you speak and answer questions. Although your smile is not visible to interviewers over the phone, being in high spirits adds enthusiasm to your overall tone, language and speech. Avoid slouching to maintain a seriousness approach to the interview.
- Be a Good Listener
A lot of candidates miss out on this crucial element without realizing it. Being a good listener will help you better understand the requirements of your role and let you ask insightful and appropriate questions. Consequently, it will allow you to engage better than the average candidate with average listening skills.
Be patient while you listen and avoid jumping the gun when asked questions.
- Make Preparatory Notes and Use Them
If there is anything specific that you want to highlight about your roles and responsibilities at your previous company, make sure you note it down and keep it handy during your interview.
This will help you be crisp and concise while delineating your skill sets. If the recruiter tells you more about your role, having a notebook handy will help. Note down these details to understand your job role better and prepare accordingly for upcoming rounds.
- Enquire About the Next Steps of the Process
Getting shortlisted or selected after an interview is never in your hands. All you can do during the interview is give your best. However, it never hurts to find out about the next steps of the interview process.
If you do pass your phone interview, knowing what to expect in upcoming rounds of the interview process is a subtle but effective way of staying ahead of your competition. You can begin preparing for the next rounds, while you wait to hear back from the interviewers.
After the interview
Follow Up After Your Phone Screen Interview
If you don’t hear from your interviewer or the company within a week, you should follow up with them. It’s possible they’re still in the process of screening candidates. However, they could be at the tail-end of their hiring process (this happens when they’ve selected the right candidate for the role).
Either way, getting a status update can help you prepare for upcoming rounds or move on to explore other opportunities. If you receive feedback on your performance, you can identify areas for improvement.
Feeling Confident Yet?
Preparing for the phone screen is the first step in your FAANG tech interview prep, and these tips will surely come in handy!
Are you excited about getting your technical interview prep started? Sign up for our free webinar today to learn how to do it right!