July 5th, 2023 at 4:26:13 PM

Candidate screening guide

Screening calls are a crucial part of a recruiter’s job, both in-house and in the agency. As an outcome, a hiring manager or a client receives:

  • the candidates who know what the company and the product are

  • the candidates whose language and interpersonal skills are good enough

  • the candidates whose experience is matching the requirements

  • a description of the candidate’s experience, motivation, and other details.

Screening call

In the case of Bee’s Knees, this helps the client to save time on their screening calls: often our candidates go straight to the tech stage as the first interview step with the client. This means that we have to do the screening thoroughly to make sure the level of the candidates we present helps us to establish trust with the client.

In this article we gathered advice from our decade of experience in screening.

First of all, a few tips and things to remember before the screening:

  • If it’s a video call, make sure you have good internet connection, camera and sound on. It is highly desirable that the candidate has camera on as well

  • Make notes and save them to the candidate’s profile in your ATS

  • If a candidate and you share the same mother tongue and it’s not English, make sure you make at least one part of the screening in English

  • First and foremost, assess the candidate in the context of the job you’re considering them for. But (especially if you work in an agency) keep in mind that you or someone else from your colleagues can come back to this candidate regarding another job in the future. Thus, it’s important to establish a connection with the person and make a good impression, even if they aren’t a fit to a specific job.

The screening call consists of 2 main parts: company pitch and questions to the candidate, and also intro and outro.

1️⃣ Intro

Introduce yourself, e.g.:

My name is Olga, I am a recruiter at Bee’s Knees and not a direct employee of Company X. Today I’ll give you an overview about the company and ask questions about your experience, and your next interview is going to be with the company directly.

2️⃣ Pitch

Ask how much the candidate knows already about the company and the product. This will help you tailor your pitch and assess how interested the candidate is in this position.

In about 5-7 mins go through the following topics in your pitch:

1. Company

  • What the product is about

  • When the company was founded

  • How much funding it has received and what’s the current stage

  • Number of employees

  • Number of offices, locations

  • Culture

2. Engineering

  • Team

  • Total number of engineers in the company and in the hiring team

  • Teams setup (cross functional or something else)

  • Who this person will be reporting to

  • Technology

  • Tech stack and infrastructure tools used across the company

  • Development methodology (Scrum, Kanban, something else, are there daily standups or weekly meetings)

3. The role

  • Tech stack for the specific role

  • What the hiring team is working on

  • Tasks, current priorities

4. Conditions

  • Benefits: bonus, equity, training budget, private health insurance

  • Office, hybrid or remote

  • Relocation package, if applicable

  • Working hours

  • Employment format: employee, contractor, EoR

3️⃣ Questions to the candidate

Below are the topics that should be covered on a screening call. Each topic has a number of questions. None of them are mandatory and are given here to provide examples. Tailor each interview accordingly, depending on:

  • What are the topics that you or a sourcer has already discussed via messages or emails?

  • How much info about the candidate you have already? For example, if you have a very detailed CV, you can skip some questions from the Experience part.

  • What are the areas that the client or a hiring manager expects you to cover and how deeply? Especially on the culture fit side.


Ask a candidate to walk you through their experience and career history. Then, depending on how much they did or did not cover, ask some of the questions below:

  • What is the area of the product that you’re working on?

  • What tools and technologies do you use?

  • What is your most favorite part of your job? What is your least favorite part of your job?

  • How big is your team?

  • Who do you report to?

  • How do people get tasks? What methodology do you use?

  • Do you have a good team now? Why? What makes a good team?

  • Ask about the reasons of changing the jobs in the past

  • Where do you see yourself on the scale from junior to senior? What differs junior from senior?

  • Do you like to teach others? Have you been in the role of a mentor before?

  • Are you a hands-on or manager type?

  • How do you learn new things?

  • Do you have any hobby projects?

  • What would you like to learn next? Name 2-3 technologies you’d like to master within next 6 months


  • What is your motivation to change your job?

  • What would you like to change in your current job?

  • How do you choose your future job? Which criteria do you apply?

Location and paperwork

  • Where are you located geographically?

  • Do you plan to work remotely, onsite, or relocate? (depending on the given conditions)

  • If remotely: make sure the candidate is fine with contractor or employer of record setting

  • If relocation: ask if the person previously visited the country / city; if they are bringing family; if they need a visa sponsorship.


  • What is your desired annual gross salary (without stocks / bonuses) or a range that you’re looking into?

Notice period

  • If all goes well, how soon can you start?

4️⃣ Outro

  • Ask if a candidate has any questions. If you don’t have all the answers, write down the questions and check with the hiring manager

  • Tell about the interview process and estimated date when you or the company will get back to them

  • Mention that the candidate can get in touch with you at any point if they have questions or concerns.

Sometimes it makes sense to start with the questions to the candidate and finish with the company pitch. In our opinion, when the candidate is more senior and is harder to be headhunted, it makes sense to start with the pitch. However, bear in mind that starting with the pitch makes the candidate more biased and able to answer questions in the way that will fit your company. Thus when giving a pitch of the company, it is important to keep details like the portrait of the ideal candidate and similar ones undisclosed.

To finish, we would like to mention that any interview, including screening, is mostly a dialog and has to be adjusted to every role, company, candidate and the situation. Thus it is most important to find suitable questions and approach for each case. So instead of blindly following the rules and lists, rather use them as facilitation.

Happy screening!

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