How to Ace Screening Interviews - 7 Tips for Success

September 1, 2016


screening Interviews

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.

Therefore, interviews play a vital role in, broadly defined, selecting the future leaders of the industry. It becomes the foremost priority for the interviewee to display the best blend of knowledge, experience and skill set, and for the interviewer to gage that trustworthiness, honesty and integrity of the future employee for their organisation. Thus, making Human Resource Management as a key function for any organisation.

Interview is a lengthy process. Thus, to make sure that the major process of Interview is held with the people having the required expertise and experience, it’s always better to chuck down the ones who do not fit the requisite criteria. With this, emerges the concept of Screening Interviews.

A screening interview is part of the job selection process used by potential employers, and recruiters, to evaluate the suitability of an applicant to fill a vacancy in an organisation.  A screening interview is a brief question and answer session, conducted in an informal manner.

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?

  1. 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.

  1. Showcase your best personality

screening 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 questionsAsk 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.
  1. 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.

  1. 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.
  • Rehearse: Practice your responses before the interview, asking a friend to help you conduct a mock interview if possible, by making him/her play the role of the employer and offer feedback and appraisal in areas of improvement. Keep a track of yourself so you can analyze your responses and nonverbal cues like eye contact and body language. You may realize that you tend to behave in manner that signal to employers you’re uncomfortable or bored; for example, you might fidget, or unknowingly cross your arms, or lose eye contact, etc. The more you rehearse, the more you move towards perfection and you’ll be able to convey more professionalism and poise when you to talk to the interviewer.
  • SWOT Analysis: SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
  1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Compare all your performances with the ones before.
  3. Work on your weaknesses. Get advice, research online, ask the interviewers. Enhance yourself by taking out time, learn the processes, and get it right.
  4. Don’t let yourself to just slip-off through an interview. Don’t make excuses if you fail.
  5. Analyze yourself. Self criticism is a very powerful weapon, used properly.

 Ace Screening Interviews Conclusion

For many applicants, it’s easier to exhibit their worth through rounds of interviews than to break the initial barrier which is the screening. Screening interview is designed specifically to filter applicants. The reality of any job application is that there are so many jobs to fill. More isn’t better, for employers or applicants. Screening is the process of sorting in order to disqualify candidates using successively more detailed examinations of the resumes. It all comes down to this: Be the professional you are, so that you may earn the respect you deserve, and the chance to proceed further in the hiring process.

Screeners might not usually be concerned with evaluating or judging your traits or thought processes. The interviewers have one main duty before putting you forth and taking you to the next interviewing level. They do so by validating your expertise, qualification, skills set, and track record. However, that does not mean you take this part of the interviewing process casually, as it the first stair to the ladder.

Interview as a concept is an art for both the employer/interviewer and the applicant/interviewee. Therefore, mastering this art through practice does not only help you get a job but also sometimes, imbibes in you certain qualities, like basic etiquette of greeting, warm smile, thanking, etc. due to the practice you do while preparing for the interviews.

Keep it simple and candid, and save most of your idealistic melodrama for the selection interview. Till the time you don’t proffer reasons for the interviewer to send you away, expect to be put forward to the decision maker — who assumes that you’re qualified or you wouldn’t be showing up in the accumulation of applicants for interview.



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