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What Recruiters Look for During an Initial Phone Screen?

what_recruiters_look_forHere is a very good and direct summary of what to do when you do a phone screen interview.

Always remember that the objective is to get the in person interview by validating the information on your resume and delivering a compelling value story why they need to talk to you.

What Recruiters Look for During an Initial Phone Screen?

By: Lin Grensing-Pophal (published on SHRM website)

Phone screening is becoming an increasingly popular way for HR professionals and hiring managers to get an initial sense of the capabilities and personalities of the people they may eventually bring in for an interview. Understanding what these recruiters are looking for during these phone screens can give you a leg up and help boost the odds that you’ll be called in for a face-to-face interview.

Justin King is a recruiter at The RightThing Inc., a staffing and recruiting firm in the Toledo, Ohio, area. In the initial phone screen, says King, “recruiters are looking to confirm qualifications listed on the candidate’s resume, clarify any grey areas, gain further insight on work history and skills, inform the candidate of the position, judge interest, and kick off the application process.” These interviews, he says, provide an opportunity to “feel out” the applicants and assess their interest in the position, including an assessment of whether they would be a good fit for the position in terms of job requirements, location and salary range. A phone interview also provides an opportunity to assess the candidates’ communication skills, he notes.

Evelyn Eury agrees. An independent management consulting professional in the Washington, D.C., area, with experience in talent acquisition, Eury says recruiters typically use a phone screening interview to determine whether the candidate:

  • Meets the requisite requirements of the opening.
  • Is committed to making a transition.
  • Is interested in the opportunity itself.
  • Have no obvious non-starters.

The phone interview should be viewed as a benefit to applicants as well, she notes, because it offers them the opportunity to determine whether the position is right for them before becoming part of an intense screening process. “This is a wonderful opportunity for both parties to form a foundation for a relationship,” she says. “A good recruiter will find out more about the executive so that he or she will not waste their time in the future by calling with opportunities that are not a solid fit.”

Those who are interested, she says, “should expect the recruiter or screening representative to ask them a number of practice-area-related questions to verify expertise and quantify experience level. There may be a number of questions that measure the candidate’s attitude, personality and likes/dislikes in a working environment in order to assess whether the employer’s team would be a good culture for the candidate and vice versa.”

Salary and benefits are likely to come up near the end of the conversation, says Eury, but candidates should not initiate that conversation. If the recruiter doesn’t raise the subject, Eury suggests that interviewees turn to other sources of information. “Try PayScale or Salary Study for best results,” she recommends. If the recruiter does ask about salary expectations, Eury advises stating a range rather than a specific figure. “Show knowledge of the position by indicating a range that matches the position range and indicate, if it is the truth, that somewhere within that range is acceptable depending upon the entire package,” she advises. “After all, compensation is about much more than just the base salary.”

Candidates should also expect to be asked if they have any questions, says King. Asking for more in-depth information about the position or the company is always welcome, he says. “A smart question to ask is why the position is available; is it a new position, did the former employee retire, did they quit, and were they promoted?”

Eury notes that interviewees should make sure their questions reflect that they have done their homework. “To ensure questions are on point, the interviewee should research the position and company and word queries that prove understanding of the market, trends and potential hiring manager’s desires in finding the right candidate,” she advises. Finally, make sure your telephone demeanor reflects energy and enthusiasm. An old trick from the telemarketing industry can work for you: smile as you talk. Your smile will be reflected through your voice