All posts in: Ask a Recruiter
Phone Screening Image - Business person holding up a phone and about to answer a call from another executive

Ever been contacted by a recruiter to schedule a 15-minute phone call? It’s a good sign to be selected for a phone screening. With the hundreds of applicants that they receive daily, recruiters will utilize their limited time and prioritize candidates who have the best chance to be considered for a particular job.

The phone screening is the first opportunity for the candidate to express who they are and why they are the best fit for the position. The recruiter will be highlighting the candidate to the employer based on the call, so it’s important for them to show the recruiter exactly what makes them stand out from the rest.  And if the candidate is unable to successfully explain to the recruiter why they would be a good fit for the role, then they may not submit their resume to their client, the hiring company. Remember, executive search firms are paid by their clients to attract talent and fill key roles.

We asked President and Executive Recruiter Ben Farber his perspective on how to have a successful phone screening experience.

How do you normally approach your phone calls with candidates?

The main purpose for the call is to learn the candidate’s character and personality more so than experience. I usually have a sense of a candidate’s experience based on their resume, but I want to know what makes the person tick. How do they lead a team? Do they understand the importance of having fun and get along with their team in a social setting (in a professional manner of course)? If someone fits the job description, but not the company culture, it will be challenging for employees to work with that person day in and day out. This in turn leads to turnover. We strive for tenure, always.

While some recruiters may go by the book when it comes to phone screening, my calls are typically spontaneous and free flowing. Once a candidate opens up and answers a question, I answer follow-up questions based on their answer. Doing so helps to get to know who the candidate is while keeping them on their toes.

In your opinion, how have candidates knocked the phone screening out of the park?

A candidate who is able to make a strong impact in showcasing their personality and skillsets within the 15-minute phone call is ideal. I look for someone who is personable, passionate, and self-aware during the call. The ideal candidate will also be able to answer a question fully without overtalking. I am impressed by a candidate who can be serious when talking about numbers and how they can add value to the company without being arrogant. And the really sharp executives also know how to throw in a touch of tasteful humor. These candidates get us excited to present them to our clients, which makes for an even smoother recruitment and interview process.

What are some reasons you do not consider candidates after a phone screening?

As mentioned before, it’s all about energy and interest. I would be less inclined to present a candidate to a client who has a lack of enthusiasm for the opportunity and has not done any homework before our call about the company or position. While some candidates give me short, incomplete answers to my questions, others can stray away from the conversation all together and talk about topics I didn’t ask. A candidate who is not giving their full attention during the call can also be concerning. On some occasions, I have even heard candidates taking care of chores such as dishwashing or cooking mid phone interview! We all lead busy lives, I get it. However, undivided attention shows respect and focus. If a candidate can’t sit still for 15 minutes during a call with a recruiter, how are they going to function on the job?

Any last piece of advice for candidates who are starting the initial stages of the hiring process?

Treat everyone as if they were the CEO and follow the basics for a phone screening. Speaking respectfully to anyone affiliated with the company is an opportunity to differentiate oneself throughout the process. Be on time, research the company, and try to carve out 15 minutes of peace for the call. If there is a need to reschedule or there is no longer an interest in the opportunity, let the recruiter know in advance. It’s better to follow up and stay transparent with the recruiter in order to build a good rapport for any future opportunities.

The way a candidate acts during the phone screening sets the tone for the rest of the hiring process. While the initial phone screening with the recruiter may seem like a casual conversation, treating the conversation professionally and authentically will lead to a successful experience. We never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Businessman giving cover letter document to another businessman

The cover letter’s purpose is to bring out the candidate’s personality and delve further into the individual’s skillsets before an interview. However, when recruiters are involved in the screening process of the candidates, is it still necessary for candidates to submit a cover letter?

We asked two of our recruiters, Nicole Santos and Kelly Nelson, their view on the importance of providing a cover letter when applying for a job.

Nicole Santos, Associate Account Executive

Nicole Santos, Associate Account Executive

“When working with a recruiter, most clients do not find it necessary for candidates to provide a cover letter. Rather than depending on a one page write up, the recruiter can directly ask the candidate questions to gather similar information in a more personable level. It’s easy for candidates to oversell themselves in their cover letter, and then fall short in the interview.

If a cover letter is required for a job, use it as an opportunity to qualify experience, explaining any achievements relevant to the job position that isn’t highlighted in the resume.”


>>> Read: 
Importance of the Thank You Letter

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Myth vs. Facts Executive Recruiters

Not all search firms are created equally. From how executive recruiters operate to what industries they serve or job titles they target, jobseekers need to understand the differences. Armed with that knowledge, candidates and recruiters can work together to achieve the most successful outcome.

Bristol Associates asked three of their recruiters for input on what they felt were the most common misconceptions about those working in their field.

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It’s the job of executive recruiters, acting on behalf of their client companies, to discern what skills, talents, abilities and personal characteristics add up to the perfect hire. Often that mission requires “reading between the lines” when interviewing candidates. As a result, recruiters will ask questions and get answers that may reveal more than just the answer to the question.

In search of the perfect candidate, Bristol’s Ben Farber and Nora Bright each gave us their top three questions…and what the answers reveal about the candidate.

What Recruiters Ask and What the Answer Reveals:

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Ask a Recruiter: What Do You Wish You Never Had to Tell a Candidate. Illustration of an Executive Recruiter rejecting a candidate.

There are probably a million reasons a candidate doesn’t get hired. Some reasons lay with the client (the opening has been put on hold), and some rest with the candidate (lack of relevant experience, for example). As executive recruiters, the Bristol team regularly interacts with clients and candidates so they’ve got their fingers on the pulse. We’ve included feedback from the employer and from the recruiters themselves. We polled three of our recruiters: President Ben Farber, Sr. Vice President Peter Stern and our newest addition, Associate Account Executive Sean Parry to find out the news they hate to deliver to a candidate. 

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bristol-resume-typewriter

by Nora Bright and Ben Farber

In the search for a new hire, Executive Recruiters and hiring managers may review quite a few resumes. With a lot of competition for jobs, a candidate’s resume needs to stand out. Bristol’s President, Ben Farber, and Vice President, Nora Bright, offer firsthand advice on what to include that will set your resume — and yourself — apart.

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business, success and people concept – Disappointed young business man with thumb down.

by Jenae Nordman and Nora Bright

A job search is two-sided: it’s a candidate’s quest for the perfect new job and an employer’s hunt for the ideal new hire. A candidate looks for a position that will utilize his or her specific skill set, accommodate individual personality traits and provide a forum in which they can excel. An employer looks for the right qualifications, someone they determine will be a “good fit” within the company and whom they feel will also excel in their position.

But even when these two sides of a search appear to align, the candidate still doesn’t get the job.

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Bristol Associates Employee Benefits Satisfied Employee

Sure, free food, “bring your dog to work day,” and a gym membership may sound like great perks but for most employees, it’s the more traditional benefits that count.

According to a recent Glassdoor Employee Confidence survey, 4 in 5 employees are looking for benefits or perquisites (perks) more than they are looking for a pay raise. The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) documented how employee benefits and perks had evolved in the last 20 years in their SHRM 2016 Report on Employee Benefits. While the report states, “Compared with five years ago, more organizations are offering monetary bonus benefits such as employee referral bonuses, spot/bonus awards, sign-on bonuses for executives and nonexecutives, as well as retention bonuses for nonexecutives,” it’s still the non-monetary perks that employees seek.

Bristol Associates reached out to four of their executive recruiters: Jenae Nordman, Peter Stern, Steven Kessler and Kelly Nelson, to get their feedback.

 

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38067704 - businessman thinking and drawing mba concept on wall

This is the third installment of our series “Ask a Recruiter,” in which we pose a question to our executive recruiters about hiring, interviewing, the job search, and more. If you have any questions you’d like to have answered in this series, please leave them in the comments.

We frequently get this question from the candidates we speak to–Should I get an MBA? We asked our executive recruiters Jenae Baguley, Peter Stern, and Ben Farber to lend their expertise and tell us how they view an MBA on a resume.

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