Your likability is as crucial as your qualifications for advancing to the next stages of an interview process. During a screening call, while hiring managers may believe they are primarily evaluating your background and skill set, their subconscious assessment of how well they connect with you significantly influences their decision-making.
Let's explore some tips that can help you establish rapport and increase the likelihood that a hiring manager will like you.
Asking good questions is a key element of any interview process. It showcases your understanding of the role and also makes the conversation engaging. Also, showing that you have invested time in researching your interviewer triggers a sense of reciprocity, leading them to appreciate your initiative.
To do this well:
In the appendix at the end of this article, you will find a few suggestions for questions to ask during the screening call.
People tend to gravitate towards those they can easily understand. When your personal pitch is clear, concise and easy to comprehend, hiring managers are more likely to trust and envision a good working relationship with you.
So, how can you effectively respond to the common question, "Tell me about yourself?" Here are three key components to include:
A example response to “Tell me about yourself” is:
“Absolutely! I’ve spent the last six years running various tech programs. At my current job, I run a program that helps senior tech professionals explore Web3 and get placed into jobs with web3 startups. One of the proudest accomplishments I’ve had is running 6 cohorts of the program with participants from 9 countries which has helped place some of them in exciting jobs.
Prior to this, I was the operations manager at an edtech nonprofit where I helped run different social impact programs for young adults across Nigeria. I’ve always been passionate about community building and tech since university, and looking back now, it makes so much sense that I gravitated in this direction. As I’ve thought about my next steps, I realised I want to keep being involved in community programs that directly transform lives. This is why, as soon as I saw this job post, I knew I had to apply immediately.”
Preparing answers to common interview questions will help you feel more prepared and confident. While you should avoid reading these answers directly during the call, the process of thinking through your responses in advance will help you answer more effectively. Anticipate questions about your work experience, salary expectations, education, career goals, and why you’re interested in the role. Additionally, you can use AI tools like Yoodli and Poised to practice delivering your answers.
For some sample questions and responses, refer to the appendix at the end of this article.
Choose a quiet, well-lit space with minimal distractions for your call. Ensure you have essential items such as a notepad, pen, and water within reach. Log in a few minutes before the call to test your tech and settle in before the interview begins.
People naturally want to work with individuals who are not only competent but also pleasant. During the screening call, you have the opportunity to show the hiring manager a glimpse of what it would be like to work with you.
Hiring managers will ultimately reduce everyone they speak to about a role into four groups:
Ideally, you want your interviewer to intuitively place you in the “Competent and Warm” group.
Therefore, throughout the call, deliberately convey a friendly tone, demonstrate enthusiasm during the conversation, and respond positively to questions.
Virtual calls can make it harder for body language to come through. To prevent any misinterpretation, slightly exaggerate your friendliness through your tone of voice, facial gestures and posture.
See the picture above. The facial gesture and posture can be read in multiple different ways. Maybe he’s attentive and interested, but he could also be lost or confused. We all perceive body language differently, and it’s best to be deliberately friendly with our tone and posture.
The best screening calls happen when you let the hiring manager talk more. Engaging the interviewer with thoughtful questions not only demonstrates your interest but also reveals you as a discerning candidate. It’s a bad sign if the call ends quickly because you don’t have enough questions to keep the interviewer engaged.
Expressing vulnerability can help increase rapport. It is okay to let your interviewer know if you talk quickly when you’re nervous, you stutter, or you take time to reflect before responding.
After the call, email the hiring team expressing your gratitude. Use this opportunity to reiterate an interesting point from the discussion, reinforce your interest in the role, and express your eagerness for the next steps. Here's an example:
Thank you so much for meeting with me today. I really enjoyed learning more about your career trajectory at Stack Shift (and hearing what it was like to join as the first employee—so impressive!)
I really admire the mission that drives your team and look forward to the opportunity to help your team implement some of the ideas I mentioned around running a Web3 program.
Please let me know if there’s anything else you need from me to move the process forward.
Have a great rest of your week!
With these tips, you can effectively prepare for a screening call and increase your chances of progressing in the hiring process. Remember, a memorable first impression is essential. So, be thoroughly prepared and aim to leave a positive and likeable impression on the hiring manager.
Wishing you success in your upcoming call!
While it's essential to ask targeted questions that reflect your research and attentiveness during the call, here are a few generic questions to consider asking:
Employers appreciate candidates who have done their research. This question gives you an opportunity to express why you applied for the position. Spend some time picking out things that are interesting from their website and socials to talk about. An example is:
“I’ve worked in my job as a backend engineer for two years, and while I love things here, I have grown significantly and want to explore something new. I recently completed a smart contract development boot camp where I learned about your project. I found your team’s article series on cryptography very helpful while learning. When I saw that you were hiring a blockchain engineer to join your smart contract development team, I was eager to apply. I have spent the last 6 months learning solidity and contributing to open source, and would love an opportunity to do this full-time.”
Hiring managers want to ensure that your salary expectations are consistent with their budget. When you get questions about your salary preferences, it’s up to you to decide how to answer. You can either give a range that works for you, turn the question back on them, or deflect and say you’d like to learn more about the role before giving a number.
Although salary data is almost non-existent in Africa, a good tip is to research the salaries of the positions above and below your desired position. For example, if you’re interviewing as a mid-level designer, find out what senior designers and junior designers in similar companies are earning to get a sense of a good bracket. As a general rule, a 20% range is appropriate for most roles.
Example 1: “I am currently interviewing for DevOps positions that pay between $40,000 and $48,000.” OR “I'm open to a range that's close to what the market typically compensates for this position. During my research, I’ve noticed similar DevOps positions pay anything from $60,000-$72,000. Is this in alignment with what the company has budgeted for the role?”
Example 2: “Thank you for asking! It would be really helpful if you could share the range the company budgeted for this role.”
Example 3: “I'll need more information about the role to provide a specific number, but I would be happy to continue discussing the scope of the position so that I can provide a range.”
Nothing says “hire me” better than a track record of achieving amazing results in past roles, so don’t be shy when answering this interview question! A great way to do so is by using the STAR method: situation, task, action, results. Set up the situation and the task that you were required to complete and provide the hiring manager with background context.
Example: In my last job as a growth associate of Company X (situation), it was my role to manage the Twitter and Instagram accounts (task). In one month, I signed up 10 partnerships (action) and grew the company’s online following by 300% which reduced our advertisement spend by 25% (result).
The key is to be honest without placing blame on other people, then explain what you learned from your mistake and what actions you took to ensure it didn’t happen again. At the end of the day, employers are looking for folks who are self-aware, can take feedback, and care about doing better.
Example: “When I worked as a freelancer, I had a customer who wanted to move his website from an old provider to a new one. I had done this many times before. So, I migrated the domain and the website itself, but I forgot to redirect the email. I only realised it the next morning when the customer called me and said they weren’t getting any emails. I fixed it quickly, but the customer was very unsatisfied. From that moment on, I didn’t trust my memory anymore. I prepared detailed plans and checklists for every procedure so I would not miss any steps.”