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Cover image for Always do these 16 things when you're taking screening calls with recruiters
Eliot Sanford
Eliot Sanford

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Always do these 16 things when you're taking screening calls with recruiters

When doing a screening call with a recruiter ALWAYS have these 16 down:

1 - have shared your updated resume before the call

  • include portfolio page, GitHub, + LinkedIn profile on resume
  • few things slows it down like no updated resume
  • offer to share pdf and word doc

  • the word doc is often appreciated by the recruiter to prepare before sending to the client

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2 - be able to quickly in < 2 min. preferably tell:

a. what you're excited about doing
b. share your story
c. share the number of years or months you have with each of the three main required skill

  • sharing years before them (be proactive because they will ask)
  • show passion to learn

3 - prepare to tell what are you currently doing in < 1 min. preferably

  • what you do like you're telling a 6 year old
  • avoid using company or industry jargon

No experience?

Place a high priority on gaining experience by networking and making "intern" experience, e.g. offering to build an app

4 - look up the company's web presence and prepare to tell why you want to work there

keys to focus on:

  • company website (what do they do?)
  • what's the mission of the company in your own words
  • view social media accounts to see what they value
  • view reviews like Glassdoor and/or talk with current employees if possible

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5 - prepare your 1-3 most polished and most recent projects

  • place them in a public repo
  • deploy to a url
  • have them ready to share when requested

Stallers here:

  • projects only in private repos (no public code)
  • code older than a year
  • public repos don't represent your current ability

6 - glance at the job description before chatting with the recruiter or interviewer

  • if you don't have it before the call then request it via email or LinkedIn (I wouldn't schedule the call without it)
  • note the tech and soft skills
  • find out what the top 3 must haves are

7 - be prepared and be on-time

  • get sleep the night before
  • have energy for the call
  • have a clean, quiet distraction-free workspace for the call from desktop preferably
  • if you've not got these 3, then reschedule
  • arrive at least a couple of minutes before time

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8 - seek to get to know the recruiter's story

  • where are they from?
  • what cause them to become a recruiter?
  • how many people have they place at this company and other companies in the past year?

Most recruiters are never asked this and appreciate it when they are.

9 - build rapport

  • seek to know what sort of rapport the recruiter has with not just the company but the hiring manager
  • if not much then ask if they have a company with similar needs that they would
  • ask them if their senior's in their company have rapport at the company

10 - ask what the interview process is like

This gives you heads up if:

  • the process is one-off or it's a 5-step process
  • the next step will happen in a week or tomorrow
  • it's a technical or cultural interview

11 - know your availability for the next week

  • have your calendar bookmarked
  • be ready to tell them a few best times
  • understand if the scheduled time is a zoom call invite or a phone screen
  • accept the calendar invite
  • create a reminder if one is not sent to you

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12 - ask what is the specific team that you're going to work on and the size

  • it makes a difference if you'll be working on a front-facing app for customers or the internal app for the employees
  • is your team all remote and made up of 10-15 people or is it a small team < 5 devs?

13 - seek to understand the scenario that you'll be walking into

  • has the role been open for 6 months or was it just available today?
  • was someone fired or is it a brand-new team?
  • are there colleagues from the team who've been with the company a long time?
  • is it agile?

14 - know the salary range that you would need to take the sort of role that they're asking you to fill

  • if you're uncomfortable to answer then ask some questions and tell them you'll return to answering when you've gotten some answers
  • ask if contract-hire or direct
  • ask them what's the total compensation package
  • how have comparable candidates been paid (also gives you an idea if they've placed devs in the team)
  • if contract to hire will they submit a conversion salary
  • if contract do you get full health benefits and PTO

15 - seek to understand what the hesitations would be with you as a candidate

  • seek to know how you would mitigate those and ask again at the end of the call whether they have hesitations
  • the best scenario is that they have zero hesitation
  • if they have hang-ups, address it without being defensive or hurting your prospects
  • do sell your strengths and your passion
  • tell them that you want the role

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16 - seek to know all the tips and advice that the recruiters have to share

  • ask and you shall receive
  • good recruiters explode with every bit of information that they've got to help you succeed
  • bad recruiters will have not gotten this far with you and moved to the next quota

You've reached the end. Go you!

That's it. That's all the nuggets I have. Trust me, the more time you spend putting focus here, the better your odds will be of landing a great role that you enjoy. I'm rooting for you to get the role. Now go seize your next role.

Top comments (6)

xanderyzwich profile image
Corey McCarty

Regarding supplying resume as word doc: I've actually had a really good point made by a few people that if the recruiter needs to edit your resume for some reason then it's best to have them tell you what it should be. Otherwise you don't really know what they are doing to it. Be in control of your own presentation. If they have valid improvements then you want to make those changes on your resume for everyone and not just for them. If it isn't valid then there's no need to let them be changing the way you are presented.

techieeliot profile image
Eliot Sanford

Valid point. I'm going to include this point. I usually do wait to send the word doc after that sort of discussion takes place.

I like this thinking though because yes, you want to keep control of your resume. You certainly want to seek feedback from your recruiter about what they would like to see in resume.

From what I've heard, most recruiters do this whether a pdf or a word doc copy is sent. After a discussion and questioning, they build a summary and/or update the resume on their end with information that would be relevant to the hiring manager. Employers often want the resume reformatted in a standard way into their document template. I've never been involved in that process, but that's what I've heard from senior recruiters on social and personally.

Good call out. Thanks, Corey.

riperfish profile image

thanks for insights buddy, well written article :)

techieeliot profile image
Eliot Sanford

Thanks, I discovered these things personally after lots of trial and error.

jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy 🎖️

Over many years of experience, I've found that tech recruiters (with very few exceptions) are generally best avoided - both as a candidate, and as an employer

techieeliot profile image
Eliot Sanford

Good points. I understand this opinion because I once held the same one.

From my experience, I tried to find a role in the past year while I was self-employed. I was rejected or ghosted by over 600 applications.

The full-time roles I've held have only come from relationships with good recruiters. The steps I took above allowed me to weed out the bad recruiters. Those who:

  1. had 2 years or less years experience
  2. could not answer the majority of my questions or
  3. could not really build rapport with me were immediately ditched.

This approach is how you screen the recruiters to find those exceptions, so yeah, I agree with you that most tech recruiters can be avoided as a candidate.

I cannot speak to dealing with recruiters as an employer, but maybe I'd have to trust others judgment there.

Thanks for chiming in. I'm definitely not the only voice here.