Here’s some good advice from the New York Times about the importance of the first ‘screening’ interview. Usually a phone call, a screening interview is your first chance to impress and, if handled correctly, can easily lead to a more formal sit-down interview with the employer.
Here’s some more good advice: Don’t ever take the FIRST call. Simply ask the recruiter if you can get a number and call them back when you are prepared to talk. It’s a reasonable response and shouldn’t be a problem.
For this first call, take the time to study the job posting, do some basic research about the company calling and have your resume in front of you so you have quick access to information.
I’ve heard from dozens of recruiters who say folks blow this first call; they were in the car, at their other job, just waking up, drunk, etc., etc. One HR recruiter told me the job seeker they called said they were waiting to be interviewed for another job but were happy to talk. Huh???
Simple things like this can give you a big advantage.