Screening Interviews

Screening interviews are usually conducted by a recruiter (typically not the hiring manager) who will review your experience and personality, compare it with other candidates and determine your relative fit with a job description. The objective of the initial screen is to reduce the volume of candidates to a manageable number and then call some back for more extensive interviews. Typically screening interviews take place over the telephone. Tips on telephone interviewing are included on the Interview Format section.

Expect some open questions where the recruiter will be probing to see if you are operating from a compatible set of values, interests, and information. You should also expect specific questions about your past experience and skills. You will usually have a chance to ask some questions of your own.

Keep your answers short and concise. Typically, you will only have 20-25 minutes in a screening interview to outline why you should be considered for the job. Practice your answers so that you can get a feel for how long they should be. Two to three minutes is about as long as you should speak for a single answer.

Recruiters often use screening interviews to establish whether a candidate’s salary expectations fit with the position. Here are a few suggestions for how to answer or delay salary screening questions:

  • Let's discuss the position and responsibilities first to be sure that there is a fit.
  • Salary is only one element of a successful partnership.
  • At this time, I'm sure we are both interested in making the best match. Salary is always relevant to the employee's work and contributions. I'd like to know a little more about the position and I'm sure you need assurances about what I'd bring to the table before we can agree on a specific compensation package.
  • I'm sure we can agree on compensation if the match is right.
  • Could we review the level of responsibility and my potential for contributing to your group before moving into compensation?
  • So far, the job content and responsibilities seem right to me and I'm sure you've considered salary in establishing this position. What did you have in mind?
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