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How to succeed in a recruiter screening interview

Job hunting can be stressful, but recruiter screening calls don't have to be, writes Jobbio's Kirstie McDermott.

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Here’s a scenario you’re likely to be familiar with: You’ve been applying for jobs for months and the dial isn’t moving. According to Forbes, on average, 118 people will apply for a single job.

Some experts say it can take up to 10 applications for 47 per cent of job seekers to receive an invitation to one or two job interviews. And there are also 38.3 per cent of applicants who don’t get invited to an interview at all, even after 10 tries.

So if you are struggling with the process, you’re not alone. Job hunting is so stressful it has given rise to what’s known as job hunting anxiety. In fact, a 2002 survey by background check company JDP found that 93 per cent of people have experienced anxiety over job interviews.

While there are a lot of things you can do to help speed things along, such as optimise your CV with the right keywords to help automated recruitment software give it the go-ahead, and create targeted cover letters and resumes for each job you apply for, what about the actual interview process itself?

In the tech sector, this process can be protracted, with many rounds of calls and technical tests to contend with.

One fatal error many candidates make is to assume that an initial screening interview call is a quick, low-stakes chat. While it is not a formal interview with a hiring manager, you should take it seriously as the first step in the process, which can significantly impact your chances.

Sounding you out

The purpose of a screening call is so that the recruiter can get a sense of your qualifications, experience, skills, and personality. All of these factors will help them to determine whether you are a good fit for the position and the company.

The recruiter is essentially sounding you out, and because this call serves as a way for them to narrow down the pool of candidates and identify those who meet the basic requirements for the job, it’s really important to get it right.

So how can you ensure you do a great screening interview and maximise your chances of getting to the next round?

Take it seriously

Sounding offhand and unprepared will be the quickest way to ensure the recruiter sends your application straight to delete. Treat this call as you would any other interview: conduct yourself with a professional and positive attitude, and prepare well in advance.

Research the company, find out what it does and gather key information to show you’ve done your homework. Has it recently had a funding round or a big product launch? Find out.

During a screening call, you’re likely to be asked about your education, work experience, skills, and achievements. Have your answers prepped and ready to go, with examples that showcase your skills.

As you could be asked at this stage about salary expectations, availability, and your reasons for wanting a new job, have succinct answers ready for these questions too.

While these calls are generally fairly short, you may also be asked ​​questions that the recruiter may use to evaluate your personality, communication skills, and overall fit with the company culture. Companies want to make hires that can do the job, but increasingly, it matters that you will also be a good fit within the team and the company as a whole.

Put your skills to the test

If you’re ready to go ahead now and apply for some new positions, then the AltFi Job Board is a great place to start your search. It contains thousands of open roles, like the three below.

In this Sanctions SME role at Starling Bank in Manchester, you will be the subject matter expert for the first line of defence providing guidance on escalated and complex sanctions referrals. You’ll provide advice and ensure adequate frameworks are in place to maintain effective sanctions compliance. Extensive experience in a similar role is required.

Cleo is hiring a Data Engineer in London, who will develop and maintain the company’s data and machine learning infrastructure to support scalability requirements and the growing demands of the company's thirst for data. As Cleo grows rapidly, you'll work on driving improvements to its data platform and data engineering stack to accommodate growth, and provide the best service to users.

A fully remote Frontend Engineer role is on offer at Jobbio for a JavaScript developer who is proficient with React.js. You will also be responsible for profiling and improving front-end performance and documenting the front-end codebase. Previous experience as a React.js developer is required, as is in-depth knowledge of JavaScript, CSS, HTML.

For thousands of opportunities in tech, browse the AltFi Job Board to find your perfect role

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