How to prepare for a screening call

The word ‘screening’ as it implies, refers to the first stage of the interview process. The purpose of a screening interview is to determine if candidates have the necessary qualifications for the role for which the employer is hiring. As such, it is imperative that you learn how to review and prepare for your screening interview in order to move to the next round of the job selection process.

Employer Insights:

A company usually uses the screening interview as a filter to reject candidates who do not fit the basic requirements for a particular role. Conducted by a recruiter or a member of the HR team, the interview can be conducted via a phone call, an online zoom meeting or in person. The recruiter/HR will in most cases, use the opportunity to review the job description and the company in detail in addition to asking what you may call ‘dealbreaker’ questions to ascertain whether a candidate may be fit for a job or not.

Candidate Insights:

A screening interview presents you with a wonderful opportunity to stand out from the crowd and project yourself as the right candidate for a job. It gives you the chance to show genuine interest in the position you are applying for as well as your enthusiasm for adding value to the organization you want to work for. Therefore, it is necessary that you do proper research and prepare well for the interview.

Common Questions:

A screening interview does not differ much from company to company. In most cases, the recruiter/HR would review your resume and ask some questions to understand your skillset, ambitions and interests. Some of the more common questions asked at the majority of screening interviews include:

  • Talk about yourself
  • What are your reasons to join this company?
  • What do you understand about the role you are applying for?
  • What do you know about the company you wish to work for?
  • How do your skills/qualifications match the criteria we are looking for?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • How does this role interest you / What excites you about this role?
  • Talk about your strengths and weaknesses. How do you handle your weaknesses in an office environment?
  • How do you think you can contribute to this role and the organization in the long run?
  • What are your expectations from this role/company?
  • What are your current job responsibilities?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What are your expectations regarding compensation and benefits?
  • What is your notice period / When you can join if you are selected?
  • Will you be willing to travel to other office locations if required?
  • Tell me about your biggest achievement in your last job/so far.
  • Tell me about a bottleneck situation in your previous company and how you handled it.
  • What motivates you to work?
  • Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  • Do you have any questions regarding this role/company?

Preparation Tactics:

1. Review the job description carefully

Make a note of the job description carefully, including the required qualifications and the key responsibilities. Use this information to make a note of how your education, experience and skillsets align with these factors.

2. Do research on the company

The recruiter conducting your screening interview would definitely want to know what you know about the company, including its vision, products, services, working style and other key strategies. Go through the company’s website and make note of its goals, products/services and important/recent updates. Check for blog posts on social media pages and try to get in touch with an employee of the organization for additional insights (if you do know someone who already works there).

3. Review your resume

Although you may know what is in your resume, take some time to make a note of your key qualifications and skills. Prepare to describe your previous roles and experiences, listing out accomplishments that prove your ability to handle the responsibilities of the role successfully. Be prepared to also list out instances where handled working under pressure or handling conflicting situations in your previous organization.

4. Prepare a list of questions:

In addition to preparing answers for the questions asked by the recruiter/HR, prepare your own list of questions to ask when the interview is about to conclude. Some common questions you can work on and review include:

  • Does the role focus only on the mentioned qualifications?
  • What is the pay structure?
  • What are the benefits offered by the company for employees?
  • Does the company reimburse relocation expenses?
  • Does the company offer a remote-working option?
  • Does the company sponsor work visa for employees?

5. Practice mock interviews:

Get the help of a friend to conduct a mock interview in person or via phone/video call Hand over a list of some of the common questions that might be asked during the interview. Practice your response to these questions at least 2–3 times so that you feel confident when speaking with the recruiter/HR.

6. Ending Note:

After reviewing the steps mentioned above, take some time to go through these pointers as a parting note.

  • Scout a quiet location for the interview (if it is a phone/video call) where you will be guaranteed at least 30 minutes of undisturbed time to concentrate on the interview with no interruptions.
  • Be straightforward when answering questions. Do not beat around the bush and give precise, direct answers to questions asked by the recruiter. It is ok to say you do not know the answer to a particular question rather than trying to cover it up with unrelated answers.
  • Remember to smile and be enthusiastic throughout the interview. You may have not answered a few questions properly. However, don’t let that deter you from showing genuine interest to work for the organization. A simple smile can alter your tone completely and can have a profound impact on the recruiter’s understanding of your interest in the position.
  • Thank the recruiter/HR at the end for the opportunity. While doing so, ask about the next steps involved in the interview process. Ask the recruiter/HR about the timeframe for reviewing and contacting the candidates who pass the screening interview.

A screening interview is the first phase of the interview process which makes or breaks your chances of qualifying for a role. Leave no stone unturned to ensure you ace it and move to the next stage of the interview process with ease.