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Pre-Screening Interview Questions

Before getting to the interview stages, there is a pre-qualification or pre-screening process that you need to put your applicants through.

This is to ensure that they meet the basic requirements for the role and ensure that you don’t waste time putting unqualified candidates through an extensive in-person interview.

The pre-screening interview is widely used by companies, and your hiring process can benefit greatly from incorporating pre-screening interviews.

What is a pre-screening interview?

A pre-screening interview, or pre-employment screening, is a series of questions that lets you learn some basic qualification information about candidates, prior to conducting a more extensive interview.

The pre-screening is typically comprised of surface level questions regarding career goals/aspirations, basic questions on skills/abilities, and any job preferences. Pre-screening questions can also come in the form of a basic skills test that can weed out unqualified candidates before you invest too much time interviewing them.

The pre-screening interview is a great way to screen out candidates that are interesting, but may not be the best fit for the role. Pre-screening also helps recruiters, interviewers and candidates to become familiar with each other prior to meeting in person, increasing candidate comfort levels with the interview process.

How to conduct a pre-screening interview

A pre-screening interview can be done over the phone / video chat or via online survey.

If done over the phone or video chat, make sure to take detailed notes on candidate competencies that can be provided to the hiring manager if the candidate advances to the next stage. Pre-screening interviews performed over the phone or video chat can be a great way to assess the personality, attitudes and temperament of applicants, so be sure to take notes on these attributes as well.

If done via online form, such as SurveyMonkey or Typeform, make sure to input standardized questions that are truly relevant to the performance of new hires. We recommend using as few questions as possible in order to ensure a higher completion rate. The longer the online pre-screening survey, the less likely candidates are to fill it out carefully and completely.

Pre-Screening Interview Questions

Once you decide whether you will conduct your pre-screening interview online or over the phone, you’ll need to use some best-in-class interview questions.

The questions you use should reveal information relevant to a candidate’s on-the job performance, but they should not be so detailed that they slow the interview process. Pre-screening interviews are performed for a large applicant pool, so a balance of speed and detail needs to be found for these interviews.

Below you’ll find sample pre-screening interview questions that you can use during your pre-interview, but be sure to add some questions specific to your company and the job.

  • What about your current and past work experience make you a great fit for our role?
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your current or previous role? How did you overcome this challenge? What was the outcome?
  • What are your goals for professional development? How will getting this job help you advance toward your professional development goals?
  • What does your perfect manager look like? Have you ever had a manager who was close to this ideal or fit it exactly?
  • What type of work environment do you prefer? Management style?
  • What are some characteristics of a company culture that helps you do your best work and helps you enjoy your time at work? Which company’s culture has been the most supportive of you and your work?
  • How do you typically manage projects and prioritize tasks?
  • Have you ever had to manage multiple deadlines set for the same day or week? How did you do it?
  • Have there ever been situations where you failed to meet a deadline? What happened? What would you do differently if given the chance?
  • What was the most frustrating part of your current role? Have you ever taken steps to try and make this part of your role less frustrating?
  • What does your typical work week look like in terms of responsibilities? How have these responsibilities changed over time?
  • What makes a job fun and motivating for you?
  • What can your current/previous employer do to keep you from leaving your role?
  • What salary range do you expect from your next role?
  • What career accomplishments will help you to perform well in this job?
  • What career challenges have prepared you for the challenges you would face in this job?
  • What work sample can you provide that most clearly demonstrates your qualifications for this job?
  • Are you currently interviewing with any other companies?
  • When can you start if you’re hired?

The above pre-screening interview questions use a variety of question types such as behavioral based interview questions and questions about motivation, etc. Understanding your candidate from different perspectives such as skills, desired culture and management style is a great way to determine fit from the start.

Final Thoughts: Pre-Screening Interview Questions

The pre-screening interview is an important part of the recruiting process. It ensures that you maximize the time of your recruiting staff and hiring managers.

Once you’ve conducted the pre-interview, you’ll want to prepare your hiring managers with questions that help to further understand the skills of candidates such as these competency based interview questions.

Make sure to manage pre-screening interview scheduling and your overall recruiting process with an applicant tracking system like Lever. Lever’s all-in-one recruiting / candidate nurture platform provides tools to proactively source and nurture applicants, and push them through the recruiting funnel. You can schedule a demo here.