How to Pass a 20 Minute Phone Interview with a Recruiter or Headhunter



In this video, learn how to answer common questions you can expect to get asked from a recruiter or a head hunter during a 20 minute phone interview. Recruiters have very specific interview questions they ask to pre-qualify you for a face to face or in person interview with a hiring manager.

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Now, when you can’t call from a recruiter; you might even want to ask them if, “Are you a third-party recruiter or are you an internal recruiter?” This will let you know who you’re dealing with and that information may or may not be valuable to you.
Now, your initial recruiting interview is probably going to last about 20 minutes; it’s just totally pre-qualification. And what they want to do is they want to drill down into your situation to see if you are a good enough match.
And some of the questions that they’re going to ask you, I’m going to teach you how to answer and I’ll tell you what they’re looking for because that’s really important.
One of the things they’re going to ask you is, “Tell me about your situation.” Which means they’re going to want to know about what you’re doing right now; what kind of work are you doing? Are you happy doing that work? They’re going to ask you what your time frame is. How soon do you want to get out of where you’re at? They’re also going to ask you what type of compensation are you seeking? And they’re also going to dig into, you know, what do you like about this place and what don’t you like and why do you want to leave? And the big question; what are you looking for?
You see, if you’re just looking for a lateral move, just to get out of where you’re at, they’re probably not going to be interested in you. A recruiter is going to be looking for somebody who wants to advance their career. They’re going to be looking for people who want to make a jump in salary.
So, if you’re just, you know, let’s say you’re making $100 thousand and this position that they’re looking for maybe only pays 105 thousand; that’s not a very big difference in salary. So, they’re probably not even going to want to consider you; unless you’re looking for a much larger job.
So, let’s say you’re making $80 thousand a year and this position pays 100 thousand; that’s the type of jump they’re looking for. They’re looking for people who want more; where this position represents a huge advancement for them, not a tiny advancement.
They’re not going to be interested you if it’s a tiny advancement because it’s more of a lateral move for you, which means in their eyes, if they hire you and you move in there, yeah, you’d be happy for six months or a year and then you’re out; because it’s not a big enough jump. It’s not a big enough jump in salary. It’s not a big enough jump in responsibility.
So, when you have a call with the recruiter, try to get an idea of where they’re at in salary. And like I said, if they’re at 100 thousand and you’re at 100 thousand/ 105, probably not going to be interested in you because that’s a lateral move.


22 thoughts on “How to Pass a 20 Minute Phone Interview with a Recruiter or Headhunter”

  1. Hey Don, I watched your video yesterday and my HR level interview went very well. Waiting for the next step interview. Thanks Don.

  2. Hey Don. Thanks very much. I used your phone interview techniques for a 45 mins phone interview and the recruiter was very excited. I moved to the next step for the interview yesterday and now they want me to interview with the VP of the company. I am going to watch your video on how to ace 3rd interview. I will be back with feed back on how it goes. Thank you for all your knowledge your are impacting on us.

  3. In short, be natural and analyze what they want to know about you with that question. Your video is very useful

  4. I had listen to this brother and trust mi this bro is talking about candidates that is going for higher positions,you something I think i had to do my own business.

  5. I used your tips for my first job interview, I got the job then I got laid off due to the Covid19, now I am back again 😉

  6. Nice video, thanks for all the great info. I am in a unique situation: An internal recruiter for a big tech did not call and directly sent an email with all these questions ? She is asking all key info like salary expectations, why change, current duties, am I looking for switch, how far am I with other opportunities ? etc all on email … I am not comfortable responding to person with whom I haven't even spoken once … what would you do ?

  7. I'm not a fan of the mentality that the recruiter expects me to take a role that is much higher than I have had in the past. Maybe I want a flexible part time role and I don't care if it pays less, as long as it pays my bills and a good team of people. So I can work on building up my business on the other days.

  8. Hi Don, thanks for these great tips on phone job interview. I have on Monday morning a job interview on the phone and I should pass it or advance to the next stage after I have watched your video. Thank you again.

  9. So helpful! What if you’ve read things about their org culture like comments on Glassdoor about a toxic workplace? Can you ask if their new leadership has made any changes to culture?

  10. I had a 30 minute phone screen with a hiring manager. I felt the interview went well as it went past the 30 minutes.

    He then said he wanted to have a short list for a face to face interview by the end of the week. I sent a follow up and haven't heard back. Should I wait or move on?

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