Getting past the gatekeeper: How to ace pre-screener interviews

Career Advice
17 September 2015 | Career Advice | Guest Author

Before you are invited to meet an employer face-to-face, the chances are you will be asked for a ‘pre-screener’ interview to ensure you are right for the company.

These can take a number of forms so we asked Andrew Underwood from Job Doctor to share his top tips for each. Telephone interviews In a recent CIPD survey, 50% of employers said they use telephone interviews as part of their initial selection process.

They fall into two types:

  • The motivational screening interview where the interviewer is trying to understand more about you as a person; or
  • The competency based interview where you are asked to recount examples to demonstrate your ability and experience in a particular area

Competency based interviews are very ‘direct’ in nature and it is likely each of your answers will be given a score. Remember that you will be judged not just on your experience, but also how well you convey your ideas.

In preparation, try and identify the skills they will be looking for. Common skills include:

  • Team work
  • Working under pressure/to target/to deadlines<\li>
  • Managing your own workload
  • Communication skills
  • Customer service
  • Problem solving 

For each of the skills you identify as necessary for the role you are applying for, think of an example where you have demonstrated that skill.

Skype Interviews

Skype interviews are becoming increasingly common. As potential employers are able to see you, it is really important you do a trail run in advance. Think about:

  • Lighting – you don’t want to end up looking like Uncle Fester!
  • Movement – try not to gesticulate too much as this can cause the screen to blur which is off-putting for the interviewer
  • Eye contact - this is just as important via Skype as it is in person!
  • Your outfit – don’t be tempted to wear tracksuit bottoms. If you have to stand up for any reason this could cause a lot of embarrassment!

Graduate Video Interviews

Essentially a ‘video selfie’, these are a relatively new addition to the recruitment market. Instead of an interviewer calling or Skyping you, you are asked to log into a website and answer set questions by an avatar. You answers are recorded via the camera on your computer for interviewers to review at a later date. Often there is a 60 second time limit for each answer.

Questions about the company often crop up. For example:

  • Why did you apply?
  • What do you know about our industry?
  • What do you particularly like about the company?


For further advice, download Job Doctor’s free interview guide 

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