Behind the Scenes of the Post Application Process: First Phone Screen to Second Interview

Rene Cheng
5 min readSep 29, 2021

This article first appeared on JobSeer Blog.

Our last article talked about what happens between submitting a job application to the first phone call from the recruiter. If you missed it, I highly recommend you to read that article first before jumping into this one as it consists of valuable information. Suppose you already have; welcome back to our second article for the series “Behind-The-Scenes of the Post-Application Process” In this article, we will be talking about the moment you receive the first phone call to the second interview. Imagine this, you submitted a job application, got a phone screen from a recruiter, and now what? It is now the stage to prepare for your actual interview. However, some factors may cause you to lose your chance for an interview. Knowing what happens during this stage can help you prepare for the phone screen and an interview better. Before we begin, let’s briefly recap the timeline together:

Step 1: Find the job and submit an application.

Step 2: Wait for an email from a recruiter.

Step 3: Recruiter responded to schedule a phone screen.

*ring ring ring* — now, what?

What does the first initial phone screen mean?

The first phone screen is typically the first introductory call for recruiters to narrow down the vast pool of applicants. Congratulations! It means your application was impressive, and the recruiter would like to speak to you to see if your resume truly aligns with the applicants. Even though it is a phone screen, it does not mean you shouldn’t prepare for it. We have gathered a few key points on what you should expect and what the recruiter expects from you during a phone screen. Let’s go!

What you should expect:

Recruiter’s proposal about the role and the company

The initial conversation is always about getting to know you and how you could be a potential employee of the company. So, think of it as an “ice-breaker” session with someone who works at the company. The conversation usually begins with the recruiter introducing you to the role filled with the company background, successes, and culture. Therefore, pay attention and find an alignment between your accomplishments and the job position. It is worth highlighting key and significant achievements for the recruiter. Why? Because they want to hear it from you! Don’t be shy, go for it! During this session, the recruiter might ask you, “Why us?” as in why you are interested in working for this company. Of course, your first instinct might explain how the product or service is innovative or unique and how the company culture fits you. Sure, not a horrible answer, but it is not strong enough. We once again spoke with Victoria, the Sales Recruiter at Hiretual. She suggests candidates should try to shed some light on the skills that align with what the company is looking for and how they can make an impact, instead of mentioning something “too generic.” Your ultimate goal is to land an opportunity where you can grow professionally, so take this chance to stand out compared to other applicants by thinking deeply on this “Why us?” question.

Related: The Company Guide To Research A Company You Want To Work For

What recruiters expect from you:

So, how does a recruiter determine whether the applicant will move on to the next stage of the hiring process during the phone screen?

Confidence & Knowledge

Recruiters always look for candidates who know how to present themselves as an asset to the company. However, most importantly, how qualified are the accomplishments compared to the job position. The best way to demonstrate this is to mention the high-priority requirements that the hiring team illustrates.

Tip: Demonstrate your skills, experiences, and qualifications in the most professional way.

Clear & Straightforward

Recruiters adore candidates who cover all the requirements without asking further questions. Think about it, when you buy a product, and the instructions are clear and straightforward without having to contact the support team, isn’t it great? It makes the entire process more seamless without any worries. So, your best bet? Prepare notes beforehand and go through them when necessary.

Related: Post-Pandemic Hiring Trends: What Employers Are Looking For In A Potential Employee

What recruiters don’t want to hear from you:

Then, what makes the recruiter want to reject the candidate?


Now, this is not necessarily bad or a huge turn-off for recruiters; however, if you don’t mention any successes or KPIs that you have done, this probably won’t get you to the “yes” pile for the next stage of the hiring process. So, try not to ramble too much, instead get straight to the point.


Sure, many people say, “Fake it till you make it,” but this doesn’t always apply to all situations, especially for an interview. Lying is a big red flag, and recruiters will research and partner with other hiring teams to check.

Tip: Don’t lie in your resume because it is not favorable when the recruiter finds out.


There could be many reasons you are looking for a new opportunity. Maybe you don’t get along with your colleagues, employers, or the company’s culture isn’t in your favor. However, never complains about your current or previous company because it is not a good look! Instead, be grateful for your current job because, hey, not everyone is entitled to a job, right? You have to work for it. Therefore, let’s keep those complaints and dislikes outside of your first phone screen or interview.

Related: Ask A Recruiter A Question: What To Do When Juggling Between Multiple Job Offers

Let’s say you completed the phone screen; what should you do next?

Whew, first phone screen completed, yay! Now, it’s is your time to send a follow-up email to the recruiter and thank their time. You should have gotten their contact information when they contacted you, and if you didn’t get one? Ask for their contact before wrapping up the phone screen.

Related: How To Write A Introduction, Thank You, Follow-Up Emails To Recruiters

A lot goes into the post-application process for recruiters and the candidate. Looking for the right candidate for the company requires effort, time, and energy; the same goes for looking for the right job. From the moment to receive the first phone screen to your following interview, be sure to research the company, including its teams, culture, successes, leadership, and even compensation. Avoid any complaints or dislikes towards your current or previous roles. Get an idea of what recruiters are expecting during your first phone screen. Also, keep in mind that an interview is a two-way conversation in an interview. While you are getting interviewed; you are also interviewing the recruiter to understand the company more in detail. So, don’t be afraid to ask any questions that you may have and power through this interview, ultimately land the job.



Rene Cheng

Ambivert. Loves Coffee and Solo Adventures. Happy to chat!