Screening Interview Tips

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Screening Interview Tips

A screening interview is the first step in a great hiring process. When comparing a screening interview vs. interviews traditionally, the screening is more like a checklist than anything else.

The need for screenings arose with the rapid adoption of AI-sourcing software and automated selection tools. The challenge to hiring teams lies in these tools' vulnerability to manipulation by solutions such as ChatGPT. Candidates can simply input job descriptions into AI writing assistants and request a tailored resume that aligns with the role's criteria—regardless of their actual experience. This highlights the crucial role of selection and screening calls in distinguishing genuine candidates from those who "tuned" their resumes to match the job requirements.

A screening interview, meaning the first step in your interview funnel, is simply a qualification call. You're trying to answer one question, "Does that candidate have the necessary skills and experience to perform well in the role?" You'll want to do this without spending more than 30 minutes on the call - if that.

10 Screening Interview Tips:

The initial screening interview, meaning the first contact you have with a candidate, is a powerful step to save you time later in the hiring process. Here are some tips to get it right:

  1. Review the job description and create interview questions based on the hiring criteria.
  2. Structure those questions as open-ended, behavioral, or situational questions when possible.
  3. Be clear about what you require in a candidate - stay away from words like "Rockstar" or "Supportive" and focus on words that accurately reflect the needs of the role - "reliable," "consistent," or "knowledgeable."
  4. Set expectations. Making sure the candidate understands exactly what they're signing up for is key. Give details on the role, company, product, and customers where possible to inform them of what's required.
  5. Listen carefully to the candidate's responses. Take notes and ask follow-up questions to gain a deeper understanding of their experience and skills.
  6. Be mindful of the candidate's tone of voice, as this can give valuable insight into their level of enthusiasm and interest in the role. Remember that if you can't see them, the only way to read vital social queues is to listen to vocal changes - these could be pauses, pitch changes, or other shifts in tonality.
  7. Don't make assumptions based on a resume or cover letter alone - use the screening interview as an opportunity to get a better understanding of the candidate's personality, communication style, and potential fit within the company culture.
  8. Keep the conversation professional and respectful at all times, even if you determine that the candidate is not a good fit for the role.
  9. Ask for references or portfolio samples if applicable to get a better sense of the candidate's past work experience and skills.
  10. Follow up with the candidate promptly after the screening interview, even if the outcome is not positive for them. This shows professionalism and keeps communication lines open in case you think they're a better fit for another role in the company.

Some additional things you may want to consider to make the candidate evaluation process better are structured scorecards and interview intelligence software.

Preparing For Screening Interviews

In the first two points of the last section, we talked about preparing for screening interviews. Reviewing the job description and creating the interview questions based on standardized hiring criteria. If you don't have access to interview intelligence software you can easily list these things on a phone interview cheat sheet to refer to during the screening. Initial screening interview questions and answers don't have to be complicated, in fact- it's better if they aren't. Uncovering a candidate's ability to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world scenarios that are relevant to the role could be as simple as asking, "Tell me about your experience selling a SaaS product where you needed to close 250K each quarter to meet goals?" (question for an account executive (AE) role).

Screening interview tips often emphasize questions like these as they reveal patterns from the candidate's past experience that reveal critical skills for success on your team. These questions are core to a comprehensive analysis and should be asked as early in the interview process as possible to ensure role-based fit. One of the biggest tips for screening interview preparation that we can give is brainstorming questions that challenge the candidate to communicate specific circumstances where they demonstrated relevant skills to the job they're applying for. If you can master this, you'll be far ahead of the competition when it comes to qualifying great talent.

Phone Screening Interview

A phone screening interview is often the first point of contact between a job candidate and an employer. Unlike face-to-face interviews, the primary goal of a phone screen is to evaluate whether the candidate's qualifications, experience, and salary expectations align with the role's requirements. The phone screen is often the lowest barrier to entry, the most efficient way for both the interviewer and candidate to connect for a short chat. It saves time and resources by filtering out candidates who may not be a good fit before wasting effort and money analyzing them.

Here are some phone screening interview tips to ensure success:

  1. Prepare in Advance: Just like any other interview, preparation is key. Have their resume handy, be in a quiet environment, and make sure your phone is fully charged. Also, research the candidate and have a clear understanding of the job description and hiring criteria.
  2. Be Concise and Focused: Phone interviews are generally shorter, so articulate your thoughts clearly and keep your questions "on point." Practicing with a phone interview conversation sample can help you role-play the script effectively.
  3. Listen Carefully and Engage: Since visual cues are absent in a phone interview, it's crucial to listen carefully to the candidate's responses, tonal changes, and comments. Engage in the conversation by asking further questions or clarifying points when necessary.
  4. Ask Insightful Questions: This is your opportunity to learn more about the candidate. Active listening as well as asking thoughtful questions can also demonstrate your genuine interest in the candidate.
  5. Follow-up: Send a feedback email after your interview covering any next steps if you didn't do so in the interview.

Ultimately, your goal will always be to find the best fit for the role. Phone screening interview questions and answers to help you achieve that and will always focus on work history experience, specific job skills, salary requirements, time availability, and other topics relevant to the role. Anything that doesn't match that criteria should be eliminated or delayed for a later conversation.

Using these phone screening interview tips, and making screenings an efficient first step in your interview process will help you qualify fast, and eliminate faster. Leaving you with a pool of excellent candidates for the role.

Video Interview Tips

As we switch from the topic of screenings to video interviews, note that your hiring process will probably follow the same trajectory. Video interviews have become a staple in modern recruiting because of their low cost, low commitment, and low barrier to entry.  To make the most of this trifecta, understanding the nuances of video screening interviews and integrating the video interview tips we've mentioned thus far can significantly enhance your performance.

Here are some additional things to consider in your video interviews. Remember to treat your screenings and video interviews with the same professionalism you would in-person conversations. This doesn't always mean putting on a suit, but definitely dress professionally from head to toe. We've all seen the hilarious videos on YouTube of somebody who chose to show up in their "whitey tidies" only to spill coffee in very sensitive areas and end up running across the screen underclothed for the occasion. And, as much as these make me laugh, I'm sure glad I'm not the one on camera! So, be professional, and take it seriously. Also, make sure your background is neat and professional as well. Your environment reflects on you! Keeping things tidy and well-lit will help you project an air of professionalism. And, be sure to check your tech before you get started.

Engagement during your video interview is also fundamental to a great interview. Maintaining eye contact by looking at the camera rather than your screen is a good rule of thumb. This simulates direct eye contact with the interviewer, fostering a stronger connection. Pay close attention to your body language; sit up straight and nod when necessary to show attentiveness.

One of the top video screening interview tips is to minimize distractions. Set your devices to do-not-disturb, inform housemates or family members of your interview to prevent interruptions, and make sure to keep animals in a safe and quiet space.

In closing, excelling at video interviews requires a mix of preparation, professionalism, and technical setup. Following these video interview tips will go a long way in helping you find the best fit for your team. Interview intelligence with structured interviews can also make hiring a cinch- saving recruiters as much as 14 hours per role and driving better outcomes like decreasing attrition by more than 40%. Book a demo today to learn more.