Why include pre-screening questions in your hiring process

Now that remote work has become the new norm, hiring managers are seeing a huge increase in the number of applicants. As more people are searching for work and the opportunity to work at a distance has expanded, enormous piles of applications has now flood the inbox’s of recruiters, making it a major challenge to find the best candidates for the job. Talk about finding a needle in a haystack – not an easy task!

The best way to control this influx is by building pre-screening questions into the start of your hiring process and applicant tracking system (ATS) if you have one. Let’s dive in and learn how you can speed your process up and narrow down top talent in no time.

What are pre-screening questions?

Pre-screening questions, or “screeners”, are a collection of pre-determined questions completed in a form or in conversation during a phone interview. Screening questions help hiring managers learn more about the applicant and narrow down their decision faster. These pre-screening questions are usually asked at the beginning of the hiring process, sometimes even at the time the applicant submits their resume. They can also be used when you’re trying to narrow down the candidates you’re highly interested in to give you the extra information you need to find the candidate that checks off all your boxes.

The benefits of pre-screening questions

The ultimate benefit for pre-screening questions is to help save you time and reduce effort. For hiring processes specifically, pre-screening questions make it quick and easy for you to weed out the unqualified or unmatched candidates. Think of it like a quick survey, it only takes applicants a few minutes to complete – saving your time and theirs!

You can tailor the questions specifically to what you’re looking for in the successful candidate to gain valuable insights about each applicant with ease. You can also use pre-screening questions to find applicants that best fit your company culture and team by shaping your questions around your company’s goals.

Types of pre-screening questions

Each set of pre-screening questions is unique to every position. Recruiters and hiring managers must decide on what type of information is most valuable to know in order to narrow down their selection. It also depends on what time the pre-screening questions are asked throughout the hiring process. Regardless of the timing, the four most common types of pre-screening questions are listed below:

“Yes” or “No” questions – Using direct questions that yield “yes” or “no” responses give clear answers for you to easily collect the most applicable candidates. This method can help you find candidates with specific requirements needed for the job like experience using unique programs or software, or particular certificates for the role.

Drop-down menu question – This option provides the most benefit for recruiters and hiring managers looking for candidates that comply with company expectations or team goals. This approach is best for times when you’re looking to find candidates that check off your basic requirements. Let’s say you want to find candidates that are bilingual or what salary expectation they’re interested in.

Multiple choice scale questions – These questions can help give insights into the level of experience, interest or knowledge that each applicant brings to the table. They are great for comparing applicants to find what one applicant brings to the table versus another. For example, ask your candidates to rate whether they prefer to work in teams or individually.

To get the most benefit out of your pre-screening questions with your ATS, we recommend using a blend of these approach’s above. This way, you can ensure you’re spending your time effectively and be one step closer to finding your new hire.

How to decide on your pre-screening questions

Now that you have a better understanding of pre-screening questions and how they can benefit your hiring process, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of developing the questions. This is not an opportunity for you to interrogate the applicants with an overwhelming laundry list of questions – and make sure you keep in mind what constitutes discriminatory hiring practices. Hiring managers must be strategic with their choices. Don’t ask too much of the applicant but also make it a valuable experience for both applicant and hiring manager. Start by gathering the standard questions required for the company, then find the best questions that will help to highlight the ideal candidates for the specific position. It’s also most effective if the hiring manager has a persona in mind, so they can chose questions that build the ultimate hire.

Interested in some example pre-screening questions to start you off in the right direction? Here are our sample pre-screening questions that you can use during your hiring process to help you find the perfect match.

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