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Screening Calls

What is a screening call?

Very often, you'll have to do screening calls with technical or non-technical recruiters. If you're invited to a screening call, it means your resume matched the role criteria they were looking for and now they need to make sure what was on your resume matches reality. 🧐

These calls might be done by phone, but are more commonly held over a Zoom, or similar. Get that camera ready! They're usually around 30 minutes long.

What questions can you expect?

If you get a non-technical recruiter, they'll know all the jargon and the right languages and frameworks to ask about your experience with, but the conversation won't go super deep into technical topics.

If you get a technical recruiter, they might go a few questions deeper into things you've shared in your resume. "What precisely was your role in using TensorFlow on this project?" "Do you prefer React Native or Swift for iOS apps?" Etc.

The goal for you in these calls is to answer all their questions and proceed on to the next stage of their interview process.

Here are some questions you’re likely to get:

  • Tell me about yourself. (btw, this is the #1 most common interview question, so you should definitely have a good answer prepared!)
  • Do you have any questions about the role?
  • What most excites you about the chance to work at [company]?

How to get ready for a screening call

Here’s what you can do to go in prepared.

1. Practice ahead of time

Pick a project on your resume and record yourself explaining it out loud.

When you review your recording, think about areas that were difficult to explain clearly and concisely.

Ask yourself:

  • How can I explain this in terms that anybody can understand?
  • What are the key points I'm trying to communicate?
  • How can I shorten this explanation while still getting the point across?
  • Would a person without technical knowledge be able to follow your thought process?

2. Answer honestly

You'd be surprised how often we've heard recruiters say that they've caught a candidate stretching the truth about their experience or their specific role in working on a project. Don't do that! It's a huge red flag because it creates trust issues and makes it hard to tell what your actual skills are.

It's always smart to be honest about your experience. And you can trust that your interviewer will ask you questions about things on your resume, so be prepared to answer those questions.

3. Bring your own questions

“Do you have any questions for me?” - Your interviewer 🎤

This isn’t a trick question!

Use this time as an opportunity to express your interest in the company and the specific role. In fact, if you don't have any questions, it can feel to the recruiter like you're not really interested in this particular job or company.

Ask genuine questions. Here are some sample topics you might want to dive into.

  • What are the company's mission and values?
  • What resources are available to employees?
  • How does the interview process work?

Do your own research into the company and ask questions that matter to you. This is an excellent chance for you to make sure that the company is a good match for you and is somewhere where you can grow and succeed. ✅

Lastly, just know that sometimes recruiters don't work inside of the company they are interviewing for, so they might not even have all the answers to your questions. As always, be polite, professional, and patient and you can't go wrong.

Bonus resource: Questions to ask

Select a 1-5 questions from the reference from The Muse below (there are over 50 to choose from!)

51 Interview Questions You Should Be Asking

Feeling good about your ability to ace the screening interview? Awesome! Let’s move on to the next section.