Contributed by Padmaja Ayyagari

The Importance of Screening
Over the past few years, the screening interview has gained more importance in the process of shortlisting candidates. Companies have become stringent about getting the right candidate who is fit for the role. The screening interview helps in determining if the candidate has the requisite skills to be considered to move further in the interview process. Hiring managers can thus be more efficient focusing on a narrow set of screened & qualified candidates.


The six steps outlined below cover the key things to consider for conducting an effective screening interview:

1) Be Prepared

The first step for recruiters before a screening interview is to prepare themselves thoroughly about the candidate’s background. It is the recruiter’s responsibility to review the candidate’s resume beforehand and have the right questions to ask. Additionally, the following things need to be verified:

  • The candidate has the required work permit for the job
  • The candidate’s presence on social media, blogs, articles, etc. does not reflect any questionable behavior
  • The candidate has the requisite educational qualifications for the job


2) Break the Ice

Begin the interview by briefing the candidate about the company and the opportunity. Communicate clearly about the position and what it will entail. Present the opportunity as positively as possible. Remember, it is the recruiter’s job to make the first impression about the company, the role and the opportunity.

Before diving into the part about work experience and history, ask about the candidate’s career aspirations. This approach has several benefits:

(1) It helps recruiters break the ice and will make the candidate feel comfortable.

(2) It provides an opportunity to learn about the candidate’s background and an idea about the wider sets of skills & expertise the candidate possesses.

(3) The information may reveal aspirations that offer a chance to highlight the job opportunity and the company.

It’s advisable to keep the conversation flowing. Long pauses and silence are discouraged. Scan the resume for details that you can ask about.

3) Verify the Candidate’s Background

It’s important to go through the candidate’s background verbally. This acts as a checkpoint to verify how comfortable the candidate is with the facts presented in the resume. The background should include the educational credentials, career experience, and accomplishments. Have the candidate’s resume available at hand to clarify any particular detail.

Pay attention to what the candidate says and be sure to take pertinent notes. Identify any gaps to be investigated. Flag any concerns and clarify them. Don’t assume anything or jump to conclusions without ascertaining the facts.

4) Assess the Skills

Assess the candidate’s skills and work experience, get a feel for how these will translate into the fit for the role.

Evaluate the candidate’s knowledge by looking for technology awareness, breadth and depth, domain expertise, relevant experience, education, certifications and any other specific requirements for the role.

Get a feel of what kind of initiatives the candidate took in the current and previous jobs. Ask about the role and responsibilities with some follow-up questions.

Evaluate the candidate’s communication skills – is the candidate clear and articulate? Inquire about the project, role, involvement, reporting structure, and any other details which can be helpful in the decision making process.

5) Wrap Up

Find out how serious the candidate is in securing the job. If you suspect otherwise, it’s not worth taking it to the next step.

Be sure to check with the candidate about his or her salary and role expectations, availability, and commute or any other specific requirements which would need to be accommodated.

Be very clear in explaining your hiring process and what can be expected further. It will help the candidate to plan ahead and work around the priorities or deadlines if he or she has any commitments.

Don’t forget to discuss the benefits and perks offered by the company. It’s always a selling point!

6) Conclude

Ask if the candidate needs any additional information and address it as you are ending the interview.

Thank the candidate. Regardless of how well the interview went, express your gratitude for the time the candidate spent for the interview. Let the candidate know that you will keep them updated as he or she moves through the process.


To Summarize

While everyone has their own script for conducting interviews, it always helps to keep in mind guidelines that provide the basic framework which can then be customized to unique styles. Screening interviews are especially suited for this as they tend to be more conversational and can meander from topic to topic and so it's useful to have some structure to the interaction. Happy interviewing!


About the guest post author:

Padmaja Ayyagari is a Talent Acquisition Specialist at Ishi Systems Inc. She recommends interviewers and interviewees to look up more solutions on effective interviewing at