March 17, 2023

Guide To Pre-Screening Interview, With Sample Questions

Have you ever wondered how you can avoid wasting precious time and resources on unqualified candidates (or even those who display red flags)? One way is to remember that it’s essential to conduct a pre-qualification or pre-screening process before proceeding to the interview stage. 

This process ensures that applicants meet the minimum requirements for the position and have the necessary skills. Incorporating pre-screening interviews into your hiring process can significantly benefit your company, as it helps filter out unsuitable candidates and saves you from the potentially expensive mistake of making a wrong hire.

What Is A Pre-Screening Interview?

A pre-screening interview, also known as a pre-employment screening, is a preliminary method conducted by employers to assess whether a job candidate meets the basic requirements for the position before inviting them for an in-person interview. It’s typically conducted over the phone or via video conferencing.

The primary purpose of this is to narrow down the pool of candidates for a position, by eliminating unqualified applicants early in the hiring process. During a pre-screening interview, the recruiter or HR representative asks questions related to the candidate's qualifications, experience, and job requirements. Based on the responses, the employer can then determine if the candidate is a good fit for the position and the company.

It can also be a valuable step in helping employers identify if a candidate has embellished the resume. For example, if they make it seem as though they’re more skilled than they actually are, have a sketchy employment history, lack the necessary qualifications, or are unwilling to answer questions, the employer can quickly eliminate them from the applicant pool.

That’s why pre-employment assessments are becoming increasingly popular, which is most likely due to their effectiveness. According to a Bersin by Deloitte's research, it was revealed that pre-employment assessments are a USD1 billion industry, and more than 60% of large companies use them regularly as part of their recruitment process.

How To Conduct A Pre-Screening Interview?

Conducting a pre-screening interview is an essential part of the hiring process for any company, as it not only helps filter out unqualified or unsuitable candidates, it’s crucial in helping to reduce the time-to-hire (TTH). The TTH is how long a company needs to fill a vacant position, which includes the duration from when the job vacancy is advertised to the point when an offer is made. Here are the steps to conducting a pre-screening interview:

  1. Determine the interview format: Pre-screening interviews can be conducted through various formats, including phone calls, video conferencing, or online questionnaires. Choose the format that suits your organisation's needs and the role you're hiring for.
  2. Prepare a list of questions: Based on the job requirements and desired skills and qualifications, prepare a list of questions to ask the candidates. Keep the questions short and specific to ensure that you get relevant information and can make an informed decision.
  3. Schedule the interview: Reach out to the shortlisted candidates and schedule a time for the pre-screening interview. Make sure to provide them with the necessary information about the interview format, duration, and what they need to prepare for the interview.
  4. Conduct the interview: During the interview, start by introducing yourself and the company and explaining the purpose of the pre-screening interview. Ask the questions you've prepared and listen carefully to the candidate's responses. Take notes and ask follow-up questions if needed.
  5. Evaluate the candidates: After the pre-screening interview, evaluate the candidates based on their responses and qualifications. Determine which candidates meet the basic requirements for the role and shortlist them for further interviews or assessments.
  6. Provide feedback: Regardless of whether a candidate makes it through to the next stage or not, make sure to provide them with feedback on their performance and what they can improve on. This helps build a positive employer brand and ensures that candidates leave with a good impression of your organisation.

Don’t forget to approach each session with a willingness to consider the candidates' responses carefully. Although some pre-screening questions may elicit similar answers, place more emphasis on applicants who display innovativeness and strong communication skills. Furthermore, keep to your interview schedule by reserving the more comprehensive questions for face-to-face assessments.

Examples Of Pre-Screening Interview Questions

General pre-screening interview questions

  • Can you tell me a little about yourself?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Are you interviewing with other companies?

For previous work experience 

  • Can you describe your previous job responsibilities and how they relate to the position you're applying for?
  • What specific accomplishments are you most proud of from your previous work experience?
  • What is the most challenging project you’ve worked on and how did you overcome any obstacles you faced?
  • How would your previous coworkers or manager describe your work style?
  • Can you walk me through your resume and provide more details about your previous work experience?
  • Can you describe a situation where you had difficulty working with a supervisor or coworker? How did you address the issue to try and resolve it?

For work environment

  • What kind of work environment do you thrive in the most?
  • Do you prefer working alone, or in a team? Why?
  • Can you describe a situation where you felt demotivated or unproductive?
  • How do you handle and adapt to changes in your work environment?
  • What kind of support do you need to perform your best work?
  • Can you describe a time when you had to work under a lot of pressure or in a high-stress situation? How did you cope with it?

For work style

  • How do you manage your workload and prioritise tasks?
  • Are you comfortable working independently or do you prefer to collaborate with others?
  • How do you handle unexpected changes or setbacks in your work?
  • Can you describe your preferred work style (e.g. fast-paced, detail-oriented, flexible)?
  • Are you comfortable working under pressure or tight deadlines?
  • How do you stay organised and ensure you meet deadlines?

For time management

  • How do you prevent missed deadlines? How would you change the ones where you ran late?
  • How do you manage your time when unexpected tasks come up?
  • Can you give an example of a time when you had to adjust your schedule to meet a project deadline?
  • How do you handle distractions and interruptions during work hours?
  • How do you balance your workload when dealing with both short-term and long-term projects?
  • Can you explain your process for setting and achieving goals within a specific timeframe?

For organisational skills

  • How do you prioritise your daily tasks to ensure deadlines are met, especially if you have multiple ones approaching?
  • Can you give an example of how you keep track of multiple projects simultaneously?
  • Describe a situation where you had to manage unexpected changes in your work schedule or priorities.
  • What strategies do you use to keep yourself organised and focused throughout the day?
  • Can you walk me through your process for planning and executing a large project?
  • How do you ensure that your work area and files are organised and easy to navigate for yourself and others?

For personal development

  • Can you tell me about a time when you had to learn a new skill or master a new tech for your job?
  • How do you keep yourself motivated to learn and improve in your profession?
  • Have you ever received constructive feedback from a supervisor or coworker? How did you respond to it?
  • How do you prioritise tasks to achieve your personal and professional goals?
  • Can you share an example of how you have successfully adapted to change in your work environment?
  • What steps do you take to identify your weaknesses and work on improving them?

Pre-Screen Your Way To A Successful Hire!

Pre-screening interviews consist of brief interview questions that aim to evaluate if potential candidates meet the qualifications for an open position. But don’t forget to keep an eye out for certain red flags along the way too, like those who seem distracted and unprepared for the interview, are mainly focused on salary expectations, or even just flat-out avoiding some of your questions! We hope these concise questions help you to narrow down the pool of candidates to the most qualified ones, as well as help you in saving time and resources during the hiring process.

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