Screening calls is an art. Not only do you have to know which calls to screen and which to put through, but you must have enough finesse to gracefully re-direct calls or request that the caller try again later. Skills necessary for this task include having the ability to take detailed messages and remaining organized enough to file, follow-up, or distribute those messages efficiently.
Get Pertinent Information
Upon answering a call, get as much pertinent information from the caller as possible. Note the caller's name and company and the name of the person being telephoned. Try to determine the nature of the call. Simply ask, "May I tell Mr. X the nature of your call?" This helps you determine whether Mr. X will want to take the call.
Make Wise Judgment Calls
If you know that Mr. X does not take calls from solicitors, you can politely inform the soliciting caller of this and courteously end the call. If you receive a cold call from a business associate, ask Mr. X whether he wants to take the call. If he does not, then politely say Mr. X is unavailable and take a detailed message.
Don't Make Empty Promises
If you are unsure whether the person being telephoned will return a call, don't take the liberty to promise such a return call. Just remember when screening calls that your job is to get as much information as possible from the caller. What happens beyond that point is not your concern. Screening calls involves simply putting through pre-approved callers and taking messages for everyone else.