You’ve applied for a Data or Cloud job and been called in for a screening interview. What now? What is a screening interview, and how do you survive one?

What is a screening interview?

A screening interview is a type of job interview which is conducted in a way which will help the employer to determine whether the applicant has the qualifications that the company is looking for or not. Screening interviews are usually the first step of the hiring process and will usually be followed by other interviews. Therefore, your performance at a screening interview will determine whether you will – or won’t – move to the next stage of the interview process.

What will a screening interview consist of?

A screening interview will usually consist of a brief review of your background and then a set of questions designed to determine whether you are a good candidate for the position. The questions will usually focus on your qualifications, but you may also have to discuss your salary and benefit requirements and availability.

Screening interviews can be done either over the phone or in person, so ensure you are clear about your undertaking.

What are some typical screening interview questions?

Screening interview questions will usually be functional as the interviewer is a hiring manager or recruiter rather than someone directly involved with the position, such as a manager. The interviewer’s goal at a screening interview is to create a shortlist of appropriate candidates based on whether you have the necessary skills required and how close your salary expectations are to the budget they have for the role.

Some of the typical questions you may be asked include:

  • Describe your work history. Think about what hard skills, soft skills and credentials you gained. You should also consider the major challenges and problems you faced and how you handled them.
  • Why are you interested in this particular job? Research the company beforehand and match your job skills and experiences to the company’s stated requirements.
  • Specific skill-based questions, such as what certifications do you have? What computer programming languages have you programmed in? And what technical websites do you follow? Again, making a list of the skills, you have that match the job requirements is wise, as well as being able to give them specific examples of on-the-job experiences.
  • What are your salary requirements? This is always a little tricky to answer as you don’t want to price yourself out of the salary range for the company, but you also don’t want to set your target compensation so low that you end up feeling miserable. All you can do is research the typical salary for the position and geographic area to give yourself a reasonable range.

Tips for a successful screening interview

When preparing for a screening interview, it is important to remember that your interviewer is likely to be speaking with many candidates. Your goal is to make it through to the second round of interviews, so here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Review the job description thoroughly. Think of the job description for your desired role as the cheat sheet, showing you exactly what the company wants in a candidate. Look closely at the main responsibilities for the role and the desired qualifications. It is also worthwhile having a look into the company as well, so you have an understanding of their culture and needs.
  • Focus on your core skills. Screening interviews are usually very brief as they are just concerned with weeding out the candidates who don’t have the right skill set. Therefore, you don’t have to have chapter and verse on every task you’ve done; it is a lot better to drill down and ensure you are clear on the most relevant experience you have. This is where reviewing the job description comes into play, as it will help you to focus on the core skills needed.
  • Know your CV. You may think that your CV contains all the information that the interviewer needs to know about your previous work experience, but bear in mind they may be interviewing many candidates. Ensure you have reviewed your CV and are clear on your previous work experience and how it shows your suitability for the role you have applied for.
  • Be clear and straightforward with your answers. The screening interviewers’ main job is to sort candidates into two piles – the ones who should move forward in the interview process and those who shouldn’t. Make sure you end up in the ‘yes’ pile by providing the interviewer with exactly the information they are looking for clearly and straightforwardly.

Hopefully, you have found these tips for screening interviews helpful. If you want more interview tips from Agile Recruit data recruitment specialists, keep a close eye on our data recruitment blog over the coming weeks.

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