How to Ace Screening Interviews — 7 Tips for Success

Interviews are an important process as it helps the organisation to select the best employees according to the requirements that do not only best suit a specific job profile but also some extra qualities that reflect an employee’s flexible and dynamic personality.

Screening interviews are used to narrow down the potential job applicants, thereby increasing the efficiency of the formal interview process, and making it productive and less time-consuming. A screening interview can take place over the phone, or a face-to-face meeting, with a recruiter or a member of the consultancy’s or hiring company’s talent acquisition team.

The process typically is a session to clarify the information on the applicant’s resume or CV. The duration for a screening interview can range from ten to thirty minutes.

The screening interview may be conducted in person or by telephone. It is a behavioral interview conducted by just one person. It is very common for recruiters to screen candidates over a phone interview as it is the quickest way to ascertain a candidate’s qualifications and skill set, according to the required job profile. Face-to-Face interviews are generally used as an introductory meeting with the interviewee to get a general idea, if the candidate is fit for the company’s corporate culture or not. A screening interview is the least formal of all interviews that take place.

Screening is a dicey situation, as you never know who has the chance or opportunity of going through because there might be various possibilities:

  • An applicant might not hold the required experience in terms of years, however, might possess the required skill set, knowledge and expertise, or
  • An applicant might have an experience more than what’s required, but is not a people’s person, or
  • An applicant might possess all the pre-requisites but is not flexible enough to enter and adapt a new environment, so on and so forth.

Sure, it’s an introductory conversation about the company, but the recruiter’s main goal is to sort through numerous applicants on paper to make compelling cases for you to interview. In this cut-throat competition, it’s crucial to get through this round. Hence, screening plays the role of a filter, removing the ones who do not fulfil the criterion for further selection, and it’s never certain who might go further, because sometimes after the screening, the interviewers tend to bend the rules that might prove helpful for the organisation, thus giving them the best of candidates.

How to Ace Screening Interviews?

  • Be Professional and Sincere, rather than Ignorant

The job applicant needs to take the screening as seriously as any other formal interview, even if it’s an informal session. You should not forget that screening interview is the first step towards your formal interview in the organisation further leading to the job. It can be a make-it-or-break-it situation as it gives an idea about your personality to the recruiter.

Thus, it becomes very important to be enthusiastic and professional from the first interview leading to your new job, rather than being ignorant just because it’s an informal interview not directly by the manager of your job.

  • Showcase your best personality

The job applicant must make sure that he/she exhibits the best qualities that one possesses from the very beginning of the interview session, not exaggerating on the traits or over-expressing them, because that might give an image of an over-confident person.

Express yourself in a manner that describes your achievements, analytical skills proving you as an asset to the company you will be hired for. This is “first impression” and you do not want to drop the ball here.

  • Review the Job Profile

It is crucial to review the job profile you are applying for. Screening might be an informal step; however, it may make you lose a great opportunity. Screening is a process of identifying if you are suitable for a particular job position; hence, it is significant for you to assess yourself beforehand for the role and responsibilities of the job you are applying for.

It’s always better to expect the unexpected and never go unprepared because that might make you look less confident and no matter how qualified or experienced you are, you get a No for next interview.

  • Build Rapport

The screening can be made a positive experience if you are good at communicating with anyone and everyone, by keeping a balance in the words you say. As screening is an informal session, it helps you make a good impression on the in-house HR or hiring company’s recruiter if you possess good communication skills, and an intelligent sense of humour, thus, making your way to the next round.

Follow the 3 Cs: Crisp, Concise and Clear. This is the success mantra leading you through the various stages of interview. Correct use of words and proper framing of sentences is the key. Playing with the words leaves a positive impression as it exhibits your ability to convey the message in your advantage. The interviewer is smart enough to gage this quality, and it adds to a point on your side, therefore helping you clear this round of screening and making you eligible for the next rounds as well.

  • Appropriate Communication

Communication is an exchange of ideas, thoughts and knowledge, where it is important for the sender and the recipient of the message to be on the same page in terms of understanding or perception. Communication is, thus, a two-way process which does not only involve conveying the message by the sender, but also acknowledgement of the same by the recipient.

  1. Listen to the questions.Ask and clarify if there is any doubt.
  2. Answer clearly.Your answer has to be understood.
  3. Don’t be too brief.Lack of information (particularly about any specific subjects in the question) can mean leaving something out. Do not hide any important aspect, but do not start narrating a story.
  4. Be alert.Don’t ignore anything. If you missed a bit, it’ll be out of your answers, too.
  5. Body Language expresses what words can’t. Keep a check.
  6. Equilibrium between Thought-Process and Speech. Maintaining a balance between what you are thinking, what you are speaking, how your body is responding is an art only a few can master.
  • Take Control

The basic idea of screening is to assess the applicant if he/she is fit for the organisation. It’s always better to take control of the interview as soon as you enter the interview room.

  • Greet the interviewer with a warm smile, displaying your confidence.
  • Basic etiquette to be followed, for example, asking the interviewer if you can have the seat, or how is he doing and responding to the same (if asked), in a positive manner, etc.
  • Sound intelligent and enthusiastic, even if you have been waiting for a long time for your turn to be interviewed and do not appear tired or weary.
  • Explain the reason for selecting this job, giving the recruiter an idea of your clear thought-process.
  • Play smart. The recruiter’s tend to ask the expectations that you have from the organisation especially in terms of salary. Never answer this question with a specific number, rather give a smart answer which kills two birds with one stone, by expressing a “Yes” towards a higher salary or overall income, and appreciating the organisation for its image.

It’s very essential to keep the interview on your side so that it becomes easy for you to make it to the next round of interviews, and keeping you boosted with confidence and positivity.

  • Prepare Yourself
  • Resume: The key factor is to design a resume that highlights your strengths rather than your incompetence, your achievements rather than inconsistencies (if any), etc. The interviewer might probe you to evaluate if there are any lies in the resume.
  • Transparency: No matter what the medium of interview is, viz., phone interviews, face-to-face interview in the hiring company, or on Skype, the transparent you are about yourself, the better it is, thus revealing your reliability and trustworthiness. Remember, your voice, face expressions, and intonations, have a fundamental role to play. If you try to be over-smart, the interviewer will be able to determine the change in your voice, or expressions, so on and so forth.
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