Ah the screening interview. In my opinion, getting to this part can be the hardest part of your job interview. If you apply to a role via the black hole where you upload your resume and then re-type everything in your resume, you will likely have a bad time. Many ID jobs now easily get 100+ applications and for a remote only role, expect 300+ applicants. The "spray and pray" method doesn't work with instructional design and it doesn't work with applying for jobs either. Jobs you are interested in should get you giddy. When I'm giddy I do a Tigger bounce and quickly do some "spirit fingers" action with my hands. My last role I interviewed for, that was me. I wanted them as much as they wanted me.
I'm a big believer in having a job apply to you and not have you apply to a job. This is easier to do now more than ever with LinkedIn. If you don't have a LinkedIn yet, stop what you are doing right now and get one. To me, it's that important because not only can you easily keep up with what is going on in learning and development but you can interact with people and companies you admire.
Do you use LinkedIn currently?
Remember, this is about MUTUAL fit. Do not lower your standards in what you expect for a job. If you do, you will be miserable, not do your best work and it will cause you stress. Why would you want to put yourself through that?
I made a video about this specifically talking about making the employers come to you instead of vice versa.
If you are a LinkedIn newb, my friend Jennifer Brick has a great video on how you can use LinkedIn to find job opportunities. I also recommend connecting with her for general career advice, she has a wealth of knowledge and is a former learning and development goddess.
So what is a screening interview?
Screening interviews are designed to narrow the candidate pool for the hiring managers and ditch out unqualified candidates. Screening interviews are typically done by human resource departments or third party contractors. Your mission in a screening interview is to crosswalk your background to the role the employer wants to fill. These are different than the selection interviews (or sometimes called hiring interviews) which will be a deeper evaluation of your background. If you are getting a screening interview, typically it is because:
- someone at the organization told the hiring manager about you or the hiring manager asked for you to be screened
- your qualifications caught the eye of a member of HR or the third party administrator
- your applicant tracking system (ATS) score was high enough to be selected for a screening interview.
🍵Spilling the tea on the ATS 🍵
Depending on the content you consume, you may see many talk about how the ATS is the world's biggest villain. It has been my experience as a hiring manager that isn't always the case. Depending on the system the organization uses, I've seen ATS "scores" be associated with profiles but actually carry little clout. For example, when you apply it may have your name/information/resume and then rate your profile as low, medium, or high as a match to the job based on the job description. Profiles that were rated low weren't excluded from the candidate pool. I could still interview them, regardless of what the ATS says. On Clubhouse, I tried to explain this in an instructional design room but got bulldozed by another person in the room. I guess I don't know what I'm talking about 🙄. But that's different tea for another day. My point here is don't be afraid of the ATS, it isn't as powerful as some may have you believe.
The deep dive into you and your backstory will come but now is not the time to jump into the deep end. Often they will ask about why you are interested in the role, how your background fits the job description and of course that dreaded "salary" question.
This question always makes me a nervous wreck. On one hand, you don't want to say something too high if it could knock you out and the salary range is something you can make work. On the other hand, you say something too low, it could pigeon hole you into a low ball offer. If you really think about it though, do you really have enough information to give a range?
🍵 Spilling the tea on the screener 🍵
Even though the screener is associated with the company, remember that they can't necessarily hire you. They can, however, be a champion for you. Also if you are rude or give off bad vibes, they can also block your progress. Make it easy for that screener to not only remember you but also champion for you in the process.
Many jobs have the "dealbreaker" criteria meaning they aren't likely to budge on. These can vary from position to position and can range from having a certain level of degree to having access to reliable Internet service. These often are listed at the end of the job application process and are often asked as "yes" or "no" questions. You may see one like this:
Do you have access to reliable transportation?
Honesty is the best policy here. If you said one thing in the application and now have another answer, explain. Don't fudge the truth in the job application hoping it gets you on to the next round. These often come up in screening interviews.