An aspiring UX designer speaking on the phone with a recruiter

How To Prepare For the Recruiter Screen

Danielle Sander

After weeks of applying, prepping your LinkedIn, and working on your portfolio, you get a screening phone call with a local recruiter looking to fill a position. You’re excited but wondering…what is a recruiter screening?

A recruiter phone screen is usually the first step of the hiring process.  If you are active on the job market by networking, completing applications, and posting your resume on job boards, be prepared for recruiters to reach out to you via phone, email, and social media.

Remember: Details Count!

Make sure you have your notifications on, monitor your inbox, answer those calls from unknown numbers, and complete your Skype profile.  Your communication style and response times will impact landing that phone screen, so always be professional.  Ensure you have a professional voicemail message and that your responses via email and other messaging platforms includes a salutation, complete and grammatically correct sentences, and a signature.

Taking the Call

It is best to take the call immediately when being cold-called unless you absolutely cannot talk. If they are calling without a scheduled appointment, it means they are moving fast.  If you are setting up a day/time for another conversation, get on their schedule as soon as possible.

If you have a formally scheduled call with a recruiter, treat this as your most important interview. Make sure you are in a quiet place with good cell service, no noise around you, and no interruptions. You have applied to multiple positions, so double check the company and position to ensure that you speak to the position that you are interviewing for.

How to Impress During the Screening

Recruiter screens may vary widely in format across companies. The primary goal is to measure your likeability, professional communication, match for requirements, overall cultural fit within the organization, and to verify your salary requirement is in the same ballpark.  It can be a 10 minute screen or a 60 minute behavioral interview. Don’t be afraid to politely inquire how much time you will need.

Treat this as a sales call.  You are the product and you are selling yourself on your skills, knowledge, experience, company fit, and most of all, your potential to perform, grow, and succeed.


After the Call

Be sure to get the recruiter’s name, company, and contact details and write them down.  You will want to follow up after your call via email.  Include the most recent version of your resume, links to your contact info and professional social media profiles, as well as your best portfolio website.  Be sure to thank them for their time and reaffirm your interest. If there are any questions that you wish you had answered more fully, include further elaboration.  You can also take this opportunity to ask for the job posting if you do not have it, or any additional information about the company.

What About Salary?

I generally advise not to bring up salary questions first, because it tends to be incorporated into the screening process.  If you must know, wait until until the end of the screen.  A polite way to ask is: What is the salary range for this position?

Follow Up Is Key!

If you have not been given the results of your interview or next steps in the process, follow up with the recruiter once per week on varying platforms (email, phone, LinkedIn messaging) for up to one month afterwards.

Even if you are not moving forward, check in occasionally when you have completed a new project, added a new skill, or have a referral for them.  When another position becomes available that you are qualified for, they will think of you. A recruiting screening can be the first step to a great working relationship.

And finally: Don’t be afraid to be proactive with recruiters and connect with them first!

What You Should Do Now

  1. If you’d like to learn about finding a career you love - sign up here for one of our free 7-day design or development courses.
  2. If you are interested in becoming a Web Developer, UX, or UI Designer check out our mentored beginners' courses (complete with job guarantee!).
  3. If you’d like to speak to an expert Career Advisor for free about how you can really get a new job in tech - connect with us here.

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Danielle Sander

Danielle Sander

Career Specialist

Danielle has been working on CareerFoundry’s Career Services Team since 2016 and recently moved from Knoxville, Tennessee to Berlin.  The best part of her job is being able to have her dog, Loki tag along.