What’s the Difference Between Pre-Screening and Screening Questions?

For years, smart hiring managers have been using a simple two-part process that helps them hire only the best candidates . . .

Step One: Ask Pre-Screening Questions

You ask these questions to eliminate candidates who lack the basic qualifications for a job. Pre-screening questions filter out candidates who shouldn’t be considered further, save time, and make the whole process much more efficient. They are sometimes called “knock out” questions, because if you get the wrong answers, you eliminate the candidate from further consideration.

When do you ask these questions? Most often, on a questionnaire on your company’s job board, in a paper questionnaire that you give to job-hunters who visit you without prior appointments, or during phone screening, not in a face-to-face interview.

Some examples:

Are you willing to have us do a formal background check on you?
Are you willing to travel a minimum of two days a week?
Can you explain why you left your last job?
Do you agree to participate in pre-hiring drug testing and periodic testing after you are hired?
Do you have a valid driver’s license and if so, have you been convicted of a driving violation in the last five years?
Do you have the following computer skills?
Have you earned the certification that this job requires?
How many hours a week are you able to work?
How many years of school did you complete?
Step Two: Ask Screening Questions

Step two is to ask screening questions to candidates who have satisfactorily answered pre-screening questions. Through them, you identify candidates who really have what it takes to merit real consideration for the job.

Screening questions are most often asked in interviews, where you can observe the candidate who is answering them, explore answers in greater depth, and get a face-to-face read on whether the candidate is really equipped for the position.

Some examples:

What kind of job are you looking for?
Why are you interested in working for our company?
Can you tell me about something that didn’t go too well in a previous job and what you learned from that experience?
Can you tell me about something you did really well in a previous job and what you learned from that experience?
Why do you think you would be a good candidate for this job?
What kind of manager do you enjoy working for?
In addition to the references you list on your resume, can you give me the names of some former bosses who I can contact today?
Next Steps

After you have followed the steps above, there are many next steps you can take to narrow your pool down to the “best of the best” candidates. One is to have the applicant meet with his or her future manager, or with other members of the team. We’ll be covering the hiring process in more depth in future posts. Be sure to check back.

Related Posts on Screening and Hiring Employees

How to Hire Workers with the Skills that Really Matter
How Hiring Managers Can Stop Reading Resumes Today
Four Strategies to Fill Entry-Level Jobs Faster

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