Apply for a job via a recruitment consultancy and the first step is likely to be a screening interview. A recruiter phone screen interview is a lot different from an in-person interview with the hiring manager.  Recruiters are busy people who sometimes have hundreds of candidates to consider for dozens of vacancies they need to fill. Understanding that, brevity is very helpful. Too often, the candidate tries to walk me through their entire resume, but I have already been impressed by their resume or would not have set the phone call up.  Job seekers should try to respect the recruiter’s time as much as possible with concise answers. Recruiters are also very experienced at asking follow-up questions when further details are needed on any topic.

One of my professional groups spoke to some recruiters and here is their feedback.


1. Christian Kaijser | Managing Director at Career Evolutions

First, I’m looking for why you’re looking.  I need to understand the drivers or triggers to your search. Have you hit a glass ceiling, are you looking for professional development and growth, changes in responsibilities? Or possibly looking to leave a bad work environment? I need to understand your pain points.

Then I want to know what you’re looking for. I need to understand your professional aspirations and dreams, and then I compare that with the opportunity that I have.

If we still have a match, then I push on to understand desired compensation levels, availability, and desired corporate culture / environment / team.

The reason I’m calling you in the first place is I know you can do the work. The question is whether you’ll be a good match with the people and circumstances already in place.


2. Ron Beck | Director of Healthcare Leadership & IT Recruitment at Carecor Health Services Ltd.

Regarding what to share with the recruiter, I want to know:

  • Why a job change, now?
  • What features of the job vacancy are the most attractive?
  • Beyond meeting the qualifications, why should the candidate be considered a top pick candidate above the many other candidates who also meet the qualifications?
  • Is the planned remuneration in line with the candidate’s expectations?
  • What are the best days and times that the candidate can meet with the hiring manager in person?

Most of the other aspects and topics that come up in interviews can be dealt with during the discussion with the hiring manager.


3. Heather Bellingham | Talent Acquisition Lead at Bonfire

During the phone screening, I am looking for the following as a baseline:

  • Knowledge of the company and role the candidate applied for (even if you were reached out to, a quick look to gain some insight into the company and role is greatly appreciated).
  • Ability for the candidate to tell their story in a concise, well-formed manner. Your elevator pitch is finely crafted and relates to the role applied to.
  • Being concise. We don’t need long-winded answers. Be direct and to the point. Take time if you need to think about your answer, then start talking.
  • Asking questions. This shows a genuine interest in the role and company, so ask meaningful follow-up questions.


4. Tina Nicolai | Founder and Chief Resume Writer at Resume Writers’ Ink

Generally speaking, the most common and consistent things recruiters look for include:

  • Effective communication cadence from candidate
  • Engagement and ease of conversation to clearly demonstrate confidence under pressure
  • Transparency in the candidate as both a professional, leader (if a leadership role), and as a human being
  • Top skills and/or attributes required for the position (strengths and awareness of opportunities)
  • Noteworthy achievements
  • Salary (and bonus/stock if applicable) requirements including compensation package expected (this can be a range or ballpark that the candidate is seeking)
  • Passion or interest in the company and position
  • Key differentiators that candidate may be able to bring to the role
  • Culture fit to the organization


A key theme is culture fit – prepare for this by conducting company research.

This also allows you, as a candidate to see how well the company’s values align with your own. Read the news section of the website and see what reviews can be found on e.g. Glassdoor. Fact finding interviews can be useful too.

Make sure you can speak concisely and practice answers. I can offer interview preparation sessions to help you make an effective first impression.

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

Published On: January 30th, 2020 / Categories: Interviews /

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