Getting Past HR

babybaboon's picture
Rank: King Kong | 1,060

TLDR: what is HR actually looking for in a 5 minute phone call pre-screening?

Before I berate the HR profession, I recognize they are important and, generally I've had a good experience with them. However, it still boggles my mind that they perform a "first screening" before sending resumes to the hiring manager.

Recently spoke with HR team at a fairly well known firm (keeping close to the vest for anonymity). HR's questions for me:

  1. Why are you looking to leave current company?
  2. Why did you leave previous company?
  3. When are you finishing your MSRE degree (to which the answer was on the resume)?
  4. What are your salary expectations?

They offered nothing about the role, company, expectations, etc. They asked no specific questions about my background. At the end, I clarified if they wanted to know anything else except the above questions, to which they said "Nope, we'll send backgrounds to the hiring managers and determine next steps." How can they possibly turn around to the hiring manager and say "this person is/is not a fit for XYZ reasons" if there was no discussion about past experience/technical skills?

I answered their questions with tact and didn't BS them/waste their time. Are they just making sure candidates have a pulse?

End mini rant.

Comments (8)

Jul 2, 2019

I'd love to hear from someone with more experience. However, my understanding it is to ensure you're actually interested in the role/company not just spam sending your resume. Then why waste the time of managers if a candidate can't even answer the most basic questions when looking for a new job.

Often HR individuals are paired with departments, so they understand what is desired and have a definite impact on if you're hired or not. So treat HR with the same respect you would an MD.

Jul 2, 2019


basically do some cursory research on the company and fit it into your responses to demonstrate you really like what they're doing.

Most Helpful
Jul 2, 2019

hr is looking for normies - they are trying to figure out if you pass a basic smell test

    • 2
Jul 2, 2019

perspective of college student ^ not industry professional btw

Jul 3, 2019

This isn't magic. Just charm their damn socks off.

If you can't do that you'll fail in the real world anyway.

Jul 3, 2019

TLDR: what is HR actually looking for in a 5 minute phone call pre-screening?

They are covering their ass and justifying their existence. Don't overthink it. Be friendly and enthusiastic.

Jul 3, 2019

Of course. It goes without saying that everyone is treated with the same respect regardless of their position in the hiring process. And, yes, I believe I was as charming and professional as can be. So, I digress. I guess I shouldn't have been so 'hard' on them, it was more an exasperation and question of what they could possibly gain out of that 5 minute phone call.

Jul 11, 2019