Interviewing

Screening Interview: Questions and Example Answers

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Screening interviews are the starting point in the job application process. Employers use this step to select the applicants they will interview more thoroughly. This article explains how to prepare for a screening interview so you can easily pass the first round of selection.

What is a screening interview?

A screening interview aims to determine if you’re the right person for the job. It can be done on the phone, in person or by video conference. Employers typically conduct these types of interviews at the beginning of the hiring process. They want to check if you have the necessary skills for the job and if your expectations match their budget before going to the next step. 

During a screening interview, the interviewer explains the role to you and makes sure you understand what it entails. They review your qualifications and your background. They also want to verify when you are available to start working. This interview could involve questions about your current employment status and work authorization.

What questions can you expect during a screening interview?

Here are some screening interview questions and example answers:

Why do you want to work for our company?

The interviewer wants to know if you are really interested in the position or if you are just looking for any available job. When you answer this question, show your interest in the company and in the specific position you applied to.

Example: ‘I am interested in the cosmetics industry, and I know your company is a leader in that sector. I want to create your new products with my chemist’s experience.’

Tell me a few words about yourself

The interviewer wants to see if your personality fits the company culture. Show passion for what you do, and stay professional in your answer.

Example: ‘I always enjoyed writing. I was the editor for my high-school newspaper and knew I wanted to be part of the publishing industry. Outside the office, you might find me hiking in the mountains.’

What are your salary expectations?

By asking you what you wish to receive as a salary, the employer verifies you match the company’s budget. To keep your options open, you can answer with a range and ask a small question showing your interest.

Example: ‘I am looking for a salary in the $60,000 range. Is this position in that range?’

When can you start?

Your interviewer wants to know your availability so they can organize the hiring process. The company might have an urgent need to fill in a position. If you are working, you need to take into account the necessary time to give notice to your current employer.

Example if you need time before starting the new job: ‘I would be available 15 days after receiving the offer.’

Example if you are available to start immediately: ‘I am ready to start whenever you need me.’

Describe your experience

The employer wants to verify you have the skills needed for the position. When you answer, describe your previous tasks briefly.

Example: ‘I’ve been working in finance for over six years, mostly in analyst and portfolio management roles. I was recently promoted to team manager in a private bank where I now oversee four other financial analysts. And now I’m looking forward to expanding my experience across investment banking,  which is why I’m so interested in joining an investment bank like Moneypro.’

How to prepare for a screening interview

When you prepare for the screening interview, your goal is to show that you’re a good match for the position. You want to make it to the next round. 

Here are some tips you can follow to prepare for a screening interview:

1. First, review the job description

A job description clearly states what employers want in a candidate. As you review the needed skills and responsibilities, you can also read through your resume and highlight the specific experiences that match the job requirements.

2. Second, study your resume 

Interviewers scan many resumes, and it is up to you to describe your strengths while you introduce yourself. Prepare a few sentences to clearly describe your most relevant experiences and how they make you a good fit for the position.

3. Third, inform yourself about the company

Look it up on the internet and learn about what the company does and what its corporate culture is. Knowing this information will allow you to show your interest and your suitable fit to the employer’s culture.

4. Fourth, prepare a few questions of your own 

It’s a good idea to ask about the company culture, the team dynamic, or the role you are interviewing for. You can also inquire about the next steps of the hiring process. When your interviewer asks if you have questions, you’ll be able to show that you want to know more about your future environment.

5. Fifth, answer the questions briefly

Be straightforward when you express yourself. Screening interviews are usually short, so you can give concise answers to the questions and only share the essential details.

6. Sixth, be honest

When speaking about your availability, transparency is important. If you are currently working or leaving for vacation in the next few days, let the interviewer know about it. This information can help them organize the rest of the hiring process. If you don’t know something, tell the truth and express your willingness to learn about it.

7. Seventh, be enthusiastic

Express your interest in the position, and ask your interviewer what the next steps in the process are. You can also ask the interviewer for their contact information so you can follow up later.

8. Eighth, prepare for your surroundings if the interview is on the phone

You will usually schedule the phone interview with the employer. Make sure you are in a quiet space when the time of your appointment comes. If you receive an unscheduled call from the employer you sent your application to, it is best to let them leave a message and call back within 24 hours.

9. Finally, be sure to follow up with a thank-you note

Show your appreciation for the time that the interviewer granted you. As soon as possible after your discussion, send a thank-you email in which you remind them of your qualifications and your enthusiasm for the position.