In today’s intense hiring world, many employers deploy pre-screening steps before inviting candidates for longer interviews. When a candidate’s cover letter and resume are appealing to the recruiter, they are usually asked to participate in a preliminary interview or phone screening
What is a preliminary interview? At its most basic, this first-round interview is typically no longer than 30 minutes and takes place either on the phone
or via a webcam. Candidates typically have skills and experience attractive to the company, but hiring managers want to ensure that they also can glean more information about a candidates’ fit for a position, interest in the role, and personality.
The goal of the preliminary interview, then, is to make sure the employer isn’t wasting time
on an unsuitable candidate in an in-person or more in-depth virtual interview.
So, if you’re invited to a preliminary interview, it’s important to sell your skills, qualifications, and interest in the role as efficiently as possible. Here, we’ll talk about some of the most common preliminary interview questions and the most effective ways to answer them.
1. Tell me about yourself.
This question may seem simple, but it actually is extremely useful for hiring managers. Your goal here is to discuss your experience and professional history as it relates to the position at hand. If you are changing careers or this position would be a step up, be sure to mention how the role would fit into your ideal professional trajectory.
You may also decide to convey a little about who you are outside of work. Perhaps you decide to mention your interest in bird watching or painting.
2. Why are you interested in this position?
This question aims to ascertain how excited you are about the role. Is it towards the bottom of your list? Are you able to convey passion and enthusiasm about the role?
In other words, view this question as an opportunity. First, it lets you discuss what drew you to the role in the first place and how it would offer you a step up on the career ladder. What’s more, the question gives you the chance to describe how the role would let you build on the competencies you have already begun developing.
Your response to this question should convey both your enthusiasm for the position and the skills you’ll bring to the role.
3. What attracted you to our company?
Even if you’re only on the first interview round, you nevertheless want to research the company before the preliminary interview.
Career Stylist Kelly Studer advises
, “The recruiter wants to hear you sell back to them the company’s value proposition in a genuinely excited way. Make sure you can clearly articulate how they are positioned in the marketplace, what you like about them that has them stand out from the competition, and why you want to be a part of it.”
4. What makes you want to leave your current, or previous, role?
When answering this question, Studer recommends focusing only 10% on the role you’re currently in and another 90% on how the position fits into your career future. The goal, then, is to convey your excitement about the role, as well as mentioning how significant the position would be in furthering your career.
Be honest, like, for instance, if you were laid off from your previous role. But don’t veer into the negative, like saying how your previous job bored you or that you didn’t get along with your manager.
5. Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.
In answering this question, you want to tailor your response to the job at hand
. Identify the strengths that would make you successful in the role, and prepare examples that also convey these strengths in action.
As for weaknesses, mention a few minor – yet sincere – weaknesses that you have discovered in yourself. These should be weaknesses that won’t detract from your ability to perform the role successfully. What’s more, you should choose weaknesses that you have already taken steps to improve on.
6. How does this role fit into your long-term professional growth?
Recruiters often ask this question to see if this role fits into your career trajectory. They want to know this for a few reasons. First, would you perceive this job as only a pitstop on the road to more appealing opportunities? Second, is the position relevant enough to you that you’ll continue learning and developing in service to your ambition
Nailing the Preliminary Interview
The key to success in a preliminary interview is to convince the hiring manager that you have the experience required by the position and excitement about the position and company. Though you only have 30 minutes to convey this message to your interviewer, the questions asked are usually fairly straightforward. This means that you can prepare answers to all of the questions above, and then drop in your answers when appropriate. Be sure to practice giving clear, succinct answers that incorporate specific examples.
What's your no. 1 piece of preliminary interview advice? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss'ers!