Is this phone screen unreasonable?
September 11, 2014 2:49 AM   Subscribe

Just got sprung with a phone screen and wondering if it was unreasonable--any thoughts much appreciated.

I'm a pharmacist. I applied for a job in a pharmaceutical manufacturing sort of company and got sprung today. Note the "sort of"--it's not your typical giant like Astra, Pfizer, etc, but it is a manufacturer. I'm not familiar with the hiring processes of corporations like this--I've only ever worked (and applied for) jobs in local chemist shops and hospitals. I maybe should have suspected it when the caller identity showed up in a different state to the job I'm applying for, but I thought it was simply HR calling to offer an interview rather than a phone screen as such! They asked the following questions:

- Why are you applying for this job when you're from another state?
- What do you do at your current job?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- What's your expected salary?
- When would you be available to start?

The "why are you leaving your current job?" really threw me for a loop, as I've never been asked this question before by anyone. Yes I've only been in the workforce for 3 years but have held 7 contract positions plus this current perm fulltime job and never been asked that. Plus I would've interviewed for a few more, so I'd say maybe about 15 interviews at least.

I did seem to pass it however, as they asked me when I was free to do an actual interview with the site managers, but yeah I'm really shaken and wondering if this is a typical phone screen?
posted by glache to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In my experience, those are very typical questions for a phone screen. I'm surprised you've never been asked why you're leaving a position, as that's a common question in phone screens and in interviews.
posted by neushoorn at 2:57 AM on September 11, 2014 [15 favorites]

None of those sound like hugely unexpected questions from a phone screen at a huge corporation.

There are lots of questions around here which ask 'how do I phrase (some reasons for leaving)' in a way that sounds good to HR.

Why? Because HR tends to ask that question!
posted by Ashlyth at 3:01 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

The reason you weren't asked this before is because you were in contract positions that presumably had built-in end dates, so the answer to the question was obvious. In a full-time permanent position, though, the employment relationship continues until one side or the other affirmatively decides to end it, and whether it's fair or not, the reason for that ending can provide useful information for evaluating a candidate, so HR departments like to ask about it.
posted by firechicago at 4:11 AM on September 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

Very standard questions. Doing the phone screen on the spot without scheduling first is a bit odd - did they ask if you have time to talk? If you get a call like this in the future feel free to say that you're in the middle of something and ask to schedule the screen for a more convenient time (i.e. when you've prepared for it).
posted by mskyle at 5:21 AM on September 11, 2014

The "why are you leaving your current job?" really threw me for a loop, as I've never been asked this question before by anyone.

Really? "Why did you leave your previous job"/"Why are you looking to leave your current job" have been asked in every job interview I've ever had.
Usual answers (that I give) are either "was made redundant/it was the end of the contract" (where I left because of those reasons) or "I think I've learnt all I can in my current job and there's no scope for improving my skills/learning more/progessing my career" (where I wanted to leave of my own choice).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:57 AM on September 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yes all that is typical first-round stuff. However it was very unprofessional of them to phone screen you without warning. Typically you get an email asking if you're free at date and time first!
posted by radioamy at 7:00 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes, I've never NOT been asked ANY of these questions in a phone screen. "Why are you applying to this job when you live in another state" is usually phrased as "Are you willing to relocate to X city?" or "Are you aware we do/do not provide relocation assistance?"

I try not to give a number for expected salary, but am usually pressed for one.
posted by tckma at 7:05 AM on September 11, 2014

It was unprofessional of them to call without setting up a time with you, but the questions themselves sound 100% standard.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:09 AM on September 11, 2014

Response by poster: They did ask if I had time to talk which I should've said no to, but as I was on the ward and it was a relative lull and there's no reception in the office where I have lunch, and thinking they were just offering an interview, I took it on the spot. Maybe it's a cultural thing here in Australia, I've only ever been asked why are you interested in this job, which I suppose is the same as why you want to leave, but phrased positively rather than negatively.

It was really only the why you want to leave question and the unscheduledness of it all that threw me, the rest are pretty standard.
posted by glache at 2:41 PM on September 11, 2014

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