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The Recruiter Report: How to Ace an Initial Screen


An interview for your dream job usually starts with a screening process. Sometimes this takes place over the phone, but it can also via video or in-person. It allows a recruiter to find out more about a candidate and see if the position would be a good fit on both sides. Nailing a phone screen is the first step toward landing the job of your dreams, so it’s important to prep beforehand. Here are some tips for how to ace an initial screen:

Play it Safe with Scheduling

Recruiters will often give you a choice of when to schedule a screen. Choose a time that works well in your schedule. Make sure you have 10 minutes before the call to get your thoughts together. Also leave a buffer at the end of a call so you don’t have to end it and rush to another engagement.

Check the Timezone

Always double check when the screen is supposed to take place. If you’re unsure what time zone it’s in, don’t hesitate to contact the recruiter a day ahead of time to confirm.

Be Succinct

Keep introductions crisp and succinct. When a recruiter asks you a question, try to keep your responses brief. If you ramble when you’re nervous, practice with a friend. Have them ask you sample questions and try to respond confidently and concisely.

Share Your Experiences

A screen is often a recruiter’s first chance to learn more about a candidate beyond their resume and cover letter. Practice walking through your past experiences and discussing why you’re interested in this specific role. If the position is different from roles you’ve held in the past, focus on your transferable skills and how those will help you succeed. Lastly, make an effort to create a personal connection with your recruiter & learn more about them – it makes you memorable and confirms your interest.

Ask Smart Questions

A screen isn’t only a recruiter learning more about you; it’s a chance for you to learn more about a company and specific position. Feel free to ask questions as they arise organically in the conversation, or at the end of an interview to learn more about the company’s culture, goals, the team you’d be working on, and next steps in the hiring process.

PS: It never hurts to send a follow-up "thank you" note, even after a phone screen!

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