The Basics of Pre-screening Interviews and Questions You Can Ask

Weeding out candidates who aren’t a good fit for a position can be difficult. To determine if you want to continue the interview process steps with a candidate, you can ask them pre-screening interview questions. These can prevent you from wasting time on a candidate you won’t send to your client.

What is a pre-screening interview?

A pre-screening interview is a series of questions that lets you learn more about a candidate before you conduct a more extensive interview or pass them on to your client. The pre-screening questions ask the candidate more information about their career goals, job preferences, abilities, knowledge, and more.

Typically, you only give the pre-screening questionnaire to candidates you are highly interested in. It can help you screen out candidates who are interesting, but not a good fit for the open position.

The benefits of pre-screening interviews

Pre-interview questions can help you gather information about candidates they didn’t list on their resumes. Candidate answers help you make sure your candidates are the best match for the position.

The preliminary interview questions can reduce the number of questions and the amount of time you spend in later candidate interviews. This could ultimately improve the candidate experience in recruitment. You can remove candidates who aren’t good fits.

Pre-interview questions to ask candidates

No two sets of pre-screening interview questions are the same. There isn’t a correct list of questions to use. You should create a list of questions that works best for you. The questions should align with what you want to know about candidates.

There also isn’t a standard length for pre-interview questionnaires. You can ask as few or as many questions as you want. Remember, the questionnaire is meant to gather additional details about candidates before you fully interview them. The questionnaire is not intended to replace a full interview.

Your questionnaire will likely take candidates 30 minutes or less to complete. If it is too long, some candidates will not complete it.

Below is a list of pre-interview questions to ask candidates. You don’t have to use the exact questions listed here. This is just to help you make your own list.

Also, you can adjust the questions or give instructions so candidates must use different types of answers. You can have candidates give you short answers, long answers, or ranked lists.

  • What professional tasks do you excel at?
  • What knowledge areas are your strongest? What could you learn more about?
  • Do you have any other skills or knowledge that might be helpful but aren’t on your resume?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses? How can you overcome them?
  • How can you apply your skills and knowledge to this job?
  • What are your professional goals?
  • What would you like to be doing in three years?
  • What are your goals for further professional development?
  • What does the perfect manager look like to you?
  • How do you prefer to be managed?
  • What normally frustrates you most about managers?
  • What leadership skills are your strongest? Your weakest?
  • How are your interpersonal skills?
  • What normally frustrates you most about jobs?
  • How would you describe your work style?
  • What does a normal day at your current job look like?
  • What is something you wish you had done differently at your previous job?
  • What are three of your career accomplishments so far?
  • What makes a job fun?
  • What do you dislike about your current or previous job?
  • Why did you quit your last job? Or, why do you want to leave your current job?
  • Have you applied anywhere else?
  • Has another business made you an offer recently?
  • What are you looking for in a job?
  • What do you want to get out of this job?
  • What is the minimum starting salary you will accept?
  • When can you start work if you are hired?
  • Can you provide a sample of your work?

How to conduct a pre-screening interview

You can conduct the pre-screening interview by asking questions over the phone or by having candidates fill out a form.

Take notes about the interview. If you read the questions over the phone, you can take notes during the interview. If you do a survey-style questionnaire, you can take notes about the responses after you receive them.

You can also use an interview scorecard to review the answers and compare how well each candidate matches the open position.

After you have the pre-screening interview results and your notes, store them in your recruiting software. This will help you stay organized and remember what each candidate said.

One response to “The Basics of Pre-screening Interviews and Questions You Can Ask”

  1. Lorenzo says:

    Thank you. There are some good ideas in here. One question that I used to put on a pre-screening was: “Think of 3 people you worked with. The first has the best opinion of you. The second has a balanced opinion. The third, for some reason, has a negative opinion. What would they say if they were asked to talk about you?”

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