Cruising Through the HR Screening

Posted June 26, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Career Moves

Interview processes come in all shapes and sizes. From processes that involve multiple visits with what seems like countless interviewers to processes that include a single in-person interview immediately followed by an offer, if you’re job seeking, you’ve likely seen the full spectrum of preferences when it comes to a company’s hiring practices. If you’re interviewing with a large corporation, however, there is a good chance you’ll be a part of what is usually the first step in an interview process – the HR screening.

Human Resource screening calls are generally done as a first step with candidates whose applications have risen to the top. It’s the first door you need to walk through successfully to get yourself to a potential phone or in-person interview. And while the HR screening likely won’t be a part of the decision making at the end of the process, it can eliminate you early.

We’ve put together a few great tips to help you cruise flawlessly through the HR screening:

  • Get comfortable with dollars and cents. Whether they like to admit it or not, a major reason for the HR screening is to make sure your salary requirements fit within some realistic range of the job’s salary budget. We’re all used to saying “it’s negotiable”, but expect that in an HR screening, the HR professional will push you for a number. You have to get comfortable knowing what you’re worth and what you’ll leave your job for. Know your floor and your desired salary, and be willing to give a range when asked. Don’t worry if that range is large, but saying something is what the HR professional needs to hear.
  • Stay away from industry jargon. The person you’re talking to is in HR, not in the department you’re interviewing with. Their job is to see if you fit the criteria in the job description and whether or not you’re coherent and reasonably intelligent enough to bring into the interview. Using fancy industry jargon that might impress your potential boss could be confusing and annoying for an HR representative.
  • Know the job description. The HR representative may or may not have met directly with the supervisor for the job you’re applying for. But what they do know is the job description. So you should know it, too. Print it out, go through it and highlight the pieces you’re most confident in when it comes to your strengths, and highlight those for the interviewer.
  • Keep questions global. It’s always good to ask questions, but now is not the time to talk department, bosses, or culture of the specific job you’re interviewing for. Instead, ask questions about the company more globally – culture of the company, the hiring process, when to follow-up, etc.

With these tips, we hope you’ll sail through the HR screening and find an easily opened door to the next interview and eventually the job!

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."