Are Screening Interviews Actually Important?

It is not uncommon to submit a resume for an open position and be contacted by a third party instead of directly by the organization. Often times that initial contact with the interviewer is a quick, ten to fifteen minute conversation. You will most likely talk about the job description and the various responsibilities/requirements for the position as well as go into a brief overview of your employment history. Once you hang up the phone and start reflecting on the conversation, you may wonder, “What was the point of that?” or “Will I get a call back for a more formal interview?” Well, let me tell you why those conversations are important from the other side of the phone. Lisa Ryan, a seasoned HR professional, discusses three main purposes for these screening calls, in an article titled “How to Survive a ‘Screening’ Interview.” She hits the nail on the head, so let me share with you some main points:
1. The 411
When you submit your resume in response to a job posting, most times that is an abbreviated version of the entire job description. The screening call provides an opportunity to discuss the position is in more detail. You are able to iron out some details such as how your experience aligns with the responsibilities of this position, openness to relocation, or compensation requirements. Maybe this job doesn’t hit the mark in one of those areas you’re looking for, it’s best to get that figured out in a short ten to fifteen minute phone conversation than in a more formal, lengthy interview.
2. Questions/Concerns?
Since those job descriptions can be rather vague on the job boards, the screening call gives you a chance to ask questions. These questions may relate to the responsibilities of the position, the location of position, or about the organization. As the article affirms, it is a “completely safe and non-threatening” conversation. Ask away!
3. Is this a good fit?
The screening call also opens the floor for you to share what you’re looking for in a position. I like to hear candidates’ expectations. Instead of talking at them, asking yes/no questions, and dousing them with a firehose of information regarding the position – I want to hear from them. They are seeking a new opportunity for a reason and before placing them in front of our clients, let’s see if this job is going to be a good fit for them, professionally and culturally.
Don’t view the screening calls as just a hurdle you have to get over before being presented to the organization. Not only can they be incredibly informative, they can also save a lot of time and energy (for you and the organization) before going into an hour long interview for a position that just isn’t the right opportunity for you.

About the Author
Janae Swartz is a consultant with Morrison, working primarily in our People Solutions practice. To get in touch with Janae, please find contact information for Morrison here.


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