by Karen Kodzik

Karen Kodzik, a career management consultant and founder of Cultivating Careers, holds a Master’s degree with an emphasis in Career Development and has worked with professionals in transition for over 13 years. She has worked inside of Fortune 500 companies, a global consulting firm, higher education, and a non-profit organization. She has coached and consulted various levels of professionals across industries throughout the country.


The prescreening interview has become commonplace in the job market. Understanding the role of the prescreening interview will help you prepare for it, interview well and move on to the next step in the interview process.


The purpose of a prescreening interview is to determine if you meet the minimum qualifications of the job and if the company can afford you. Prescreening interviews are typically conducted on the phone by human resources or a recruiter. They often last less than 30 minutes. These calls can come at any time of the day and sometimes in the evening or on weekends. 


Prescreening interview questions are often about your experience, background and current situation. Remember, the recruiter is trying to assess how well you match what they are looking for. It helps to have your resume and the job posting in front of you so you can easily talk about your experience and how it fits with the job posting. If you have multiple versions of your resume, make sure you know which version you sent them because that will form the basis of their questions. Be ready to talk about why you are looking for new work—and make sure your answer is clear and concise. If you hesitate on this question, you’ll only leave doubt in the recruiter’s mind. 


Also, be prepared to address the salary question.  Remember, one of the primary objectives of the prescreening interview is to determine if the company can afford you. This is not the time to waiver or say “negotiable.” The recruiter will want a number or at least a range, so to increase your chances of moving forward in the process be prepared to talk salary.  


If the prescreening interview goes well, you will be invited to meet the hiring manager.  At the end of the prescreening interview, consider asking how well your background aligns with what they are looking for. Be sure to get the name and email address of the recruiter so you can follow up on your status, and yes—to send a thank you note.