What Is a Screening Interview? (With Tips To Prepare for One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A screening interview gives you the opportunity to impress an interviewer and stand out as a candidate. This kind of interview is important when it comes to the hiring process, so it's crucial that you take the time to research and prepare. A successful screening ensures that recruiters move forward with your application. In this article, we outline what a screening interview is, why it's important and what you can do before, during and after an interview.

Related: Pre-Screening Interview Questions (With Examples)

What is a screening interview?

Employers use screening interviews to determine whether a candidate is suitable for the role and the company. It's usually the first stage in the job selection process and influences an employer to add your name to a shortlist of potential hires. The purpose of a screening is for a company representative to decide if you're a suitable candidate to move onto the next stage of the hiring process. These interviews can take place over the phone, online or face-to-face. A screening often includes:

  • the opportunity to ask questions about the company or the position

  • a brief company description and information on what to expect in the role

  • questions to identify whether a candidate meets the basic role requirements

  • a closing statement on whether you're still interested in pursuing the role

  • a brief discussion of your qualifications, attitudes and experience

Why is a screening interview important?

Job screening is important because it gives candidates the opportunity to learn more about a role from the questions they ask and the information that the employer provides. Also, if there's something you don't understand in the job specification, then you can ask questions about it.

A job screening is typically the first interaction that takes place between you and the employer, so it's important to make a good first impression. Preparing for a screening boosts your employability because thorough research and preparation help you to align your skill set with the qualities that the recruiter is looking for. It enables you to grab a recruiter's attention and puts you in good standing when it comes to the next application phase.

Common screening questions

Screening questions differ according to the type of role for which you're applying. However, there are some generic questions that are applicable to all industries. Some common screening questions include:

  • What are you looking for in a position?

  • What management style do you prefer?

  • What reasons do you have for leaving your most recent job?

  • Describe your current job responsibilities.

  • What drew you to this position?

  • What compensation are you looking for?

  • What are your salary expectations?

  • What company culture do you prefer?

  • Why do you want to work here?

  • Describe your employment history.

  • If necessary, can you commute for the job?

  • What has been your biggest achievement so far?

  • What are your strengths?

  • What are your weaknesses?

  • How do you cope with stress?

  • When can you start?

  • Why should we hire you?

  • Can you relocate if necessary?

  • Do you have any specific questions about this role?

  • Tell me about yourself.

Related: 31 Common Interview Questions and Answers (With Tips)

How to prepare for a successful screening interview

The best way to prepare for a job screening is to know what to expect. They typically take place in person in a casual or informal setting. Alternatively, the interview may take place online or over the phone. It's usually a brief, relaxed meeting with several questions rather than a formal interview.

Remember that since job screenings are the first phase in the application process, you're unlikely to meet your employer directly. Instead, your meeting may be with a junior representative or someone from human resources (HR). It's essential that you treat them with professionalism and respect.

Read on for some steps you can follow to prepare for a successful screening:

1. Review the job description

Examine the job description and highlight any qualifications or experience that the role requires. Ensure that you understand what's expected of you in the role and write down any questions that you have. Once you're familiar with the responsibilities, align your skills and education with them so that you can demonstrate your suitability for every aspect of the role.

2. Research the company

Doing this equips you with the information that helps you to perform well. Useful information to look for includes company products, how they're performing in the market and their key strategies for growing the business. You can draw on this knowledge if the recruiter asks you why you're interested in working for the company and what you understand about their current position in the market.

Blog posts and social media are good alternatives to news articles when looking for relevant information. Additionally, if you know someone who works for the company, then contact them and ask them to give you additional insight. This shows that you've used your initiative and connections to propel your application.

3. Learn your CV

If you update your CV regularly, it's a good place to start when looking for descriptions of your previous roles and your skill set. Ensure that you can recite measurable evidence for your skills from memory and tailor your examples to the job description where possible. Learning your CV can also help during an interview because you won't have to keep referring to a copy of your CV.

4. Prepare for questions and answer them

Research generic screening questions and write down your answers to them. Be sure that you perfect your syntax and grammar. It's also important that you prepare for questions that are directly related to the position for which you're applying. You can respond to questions relating to your suitability as a candidate by aligning your industry experience, education and skills with the job criteria.

5. Practise for the interview

Practice helps to overcome pre-interview nerves by giving you confidence in your abilities. Practise with a trusted friend or colleague by giving them a list of questions that you prepared during your research. Ask for feedback and refine your answers accordingly.

6. Prepare questions to ask

Asking questions at the end of an interview shows that you're an active participant in the interview and demonstrates your enthusiasm. It's also a good chance to find out more. You can ask questions relating to the hiring process, the position you're applying for, or general questions about the company.

Related: Questions To Ask at an Interview

7. Prepare your closing statement

It's essential that you end the interview on a positive note that has a lasting impact. Prepare a statement that shows your appreciation and state that you look forward to hearing from them in the future. Provide them with the necessary contact details in case they require more information.

Related: What To Say in an Interview: 12 Effective Phrases

Job screening tips

Tips for a successful job screening are outlined below:

Remain professional

Ensure that you dress appropriately for job screenings, whether they take place in person or online. Follow standard etiquette, such as greeting the interviewer and thanking them for the opportunity. If your interview takes place on the phone, maintain dialogue and remain formal.

Related: What to Wear to an Interview

Show your enthusiasm

Recruiters are looking for someone who's interested in the company as well as in the position. Talk about the company with enthusiasm and try to build a rapport with the representative. Ask for their email at the end of the interview to show that you're still interested.

Choose a quiet location

Take into account the location when it comes to online interviews. Choose a location where you're unlikely to be interrupted. In the case of a video call, set yourself up in a place with a neutral background that won't cause distractions.

Smile

Some individuals forget to tailor their expressions when they're nervous or preoccupied with how to answer a question. Be sure to smile while talking about the company and your previous work experience. Smiling ensures that you retain a positive tone throughout the interview.

What to do after a job screening

It's important that you approach the situation post-interview with the same level of enthusiasm and professionalism. For example, follow up when necessary and don't overthink the situation. Here are three general points to consider after your interview:

1. Send a thank you email

A thank you or follow-up email shows how much you appreciate the company taking the time to consider you as a candidate. It also gives you the opportunity to reiterate your interest and opens up a means of communication. Send your email within 24 hours of the job screening.

Related: Follow-Up Email Examples For After the Interview

2. Follow instructions

Some recruiters give instructions on what to do next regarding the application process. For example, they may ask you to send them further information to corroborate your qualifications or to follow up with them via email if you don't get a response in two weeks. If you forget what you need to do, you can ask in your thank-you email.

3. Be patient

Don't panic if you receive no information over the week following your job screening. It's likely that the company has a large number of candidates to process. If you go for more than a week without any information, then you can start thinking about sending a polite email requesting information.

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