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27 Top Pre-Screening Interview Questions For Candidates

Job interview vector illustration.
Job interview vector illustration. Flat tiny employment meeting with potential boss persons concept. Stressful and nervous process when ask questions about CV, motivation letter and application form.

A crucial part of the employment hiring process is asking candidates a set of pre-screening interview questions. These questions should help you determine if the candidate might be a good fit for the open position before you call them in for an in-person interview.

Conducting a pre-screening phone interview can help you narrow down your candidate pool and speed up the interview process. 

You can use these top pre-screening interview questions for candidates through a phone or video call. Typical topics to discuss include work history, skills and previous responsibilities, career goals, and knowledge of your company and the open position. 

A phone screen interview should only take between 15 and 30 minutes. By the end of the meeting, the interviewer should have a good idea of whether an applicant’s employment application should be moved on to the in-person interview or dismissed from consideration of the position.

Read on to find out why it’s essential to ask pre-screening questions to access skills and experience. While learning what the best ones are to ask a qualified candidate.

Why Ask Pre-Screening Questions?

Pre-screening questions are a great way to get a first impression of potential candidates, learn about their interpersonal skills, and go over the basic requirements of the job before you spend time conducting an extensive interview. 

During a pre-screening interview, you can learn the applicant’s necessary information to determine how well they meet your required criteria. 

You can also get a first impression of the person, which you can add to notes for other team members who might also interview the candidate.

With a phone screen or video interview pre-screenings via an online video interview platform, you can learn a lot about a person’s attitudetemperament, personality, and general knowledge. You’ll also get a good idea of how efficiently they communicate and their career goals.

Pre-Screening Questions to Ask 

Now that you know the purpose of pre-screening interview questions, let’s look at what a hiring manager should ask. These questions will be used on a large pool of candidates, so they need to be quick, to the point, and require a detailed response. 

Avoid yes or no questions. You want the answers to demonstrate the applicant’s ability to think and communicate on the spot. The responses should also relate to the exact specifics of the job description related to the position for which they are applying. 

Previous Work Experience

A candidate’s prior employment and career accomplishments will significantly impact whether they would make a good fit for your open position. There’s little chance that you would hire someone from another industry over someone with twenty years of experience in your field.

Pre-screening interview questions you could ask relating to previous work experience include:

  • How does your work experience and skill set help you in regards to this position?
  • What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced in the last job? What was the outcome, and how did you resolve the problem?

Personal Development Questions

Another essential factor to consider when it comes to a person’s ability to fulfill your open position is how they feel about their personal growth. 

While an applicant who has all the correct qualifications always look great on paper, you may find more flexibility with someone who is still working on their professional goals. 

People who are open to continuing to grow through personal development are more likely to be willing to learn new methods, technologies, and skills to help improve performance and adapt to a company’s culture.

Pre-screening interview Questions to ask to learn about a person’s personal growth include:

  • What goals do you have for your personal development?
  • How does this position help move you towards your goals?

Work Environment Related Questions

During the screening process by understanding how people prefer their work environment can learn how well they would integrate into your workforce.

You may understand a bit about their previous environments if you know the company they used to work. But it also helps to ask what type of setting they prefer and what they’ve experienced.

A few Pre-screening interview questions that can help you get a good feeling of a candidate’s work expectations are:

  • What type of manager style works best for you?
  • In what work environment would you thrive? 
  • What does an ideal workday look like for you?

Work Style Interview Questions

Some people love working as part of a team while other people work better solo. It’s best to know which way your candidates lean before you spend time with an in-person interview.

If a candidate has worked a solo gig in IT, they may have trouble transferring to a collaboration role between multiple team members who have to work together daily. 

Pre-screening interview questions to determine their preferences for collaborative versus solo roles can be:

  • Do you prefer working with a team, or are you better by yourself?
  • Can you provide an example of when you had to work as part of a team? What were your responsibilities? How well did it work? 
  • What do you think makes the team successful?
  • Have you ever experienced a problem with a team member? How was the situation resolved?

Deadline Driven Questions

Another essential factor you’ll want to consider new employees is how they respond under pressure and deadlines. 

Different employers have various requirements for handling projects that are due, as well as how assignments are submitted. 

Pre-screening interview questions to find out how a person will handle deadlines include:

  • Do you have experience with multiple deadlines due around the same time? How did you manage your time?
  • What is your experience with meeting or missing deadlines? What do you do to prevent missed deadlines? How would you change the ones where you ran late? What caused the problems?
  • Did you have many deadlines to meet in your previous positions?

Interview Questions about Responsibilities

Before you pick a candidate, you’ll want to know if they can handle the responsibilities of the role they are applying to fill. Use pre-screening questions to find out what experiences your candidates have accumulated. 

A job title doesn’t mean much these days as businesses have different requirements for the same position. Instead of asking about a person’s previous title, have them define the roles and responsibilities they were responsible for at their last job. 

Useful pre-screening interview questions to ask regarding responsibilities can be something like:

  • What types of things were you responsible for doing at your last job?
  • Were there jobs you did that do not typically fall under someone’s responsibility in your job position?
  • What roles did you have to fulfill at the previous post that you think will be useful for this position?
  • What responsibilities do you hope to have with our company?

Questions to Reveal Organizational Skills

Finding an employee who can stay on task and organized is crucial in picking the right candidate. You want to find someone dedicated to completing their responsibilities on time, without having to be micromanaged.

It can be challenging to determine a person’s organizational skills through a simple phone call, but if you are video chatting, you can use the time to take in the person’s appearance and the area around them.

A disheveled appearance or a cluttered work area can signify someone who doesn’t put much thought into organization. 

Try asking these pre-screening questions for your candidates to determine their opinions on organization and time management:

  • Do you have experience working on more than one project at a time?
  • How do you prioritize tasks?
  • What tools do you use to manage projects, so they’re completed by the due date?

Why Our Company

Additionaly information you should want to know about a potential candidate is why they chose your company. Some people see a job listing and apply because they’re in desperate need of work or because the position is higher paying or better than their current position.

Interviewees that are familiar with your company will already understand the way things work, what you do, and have experience in the industry. Hiring someone already familiar with your role can save you money in training the recruits.

Pre-screening interview questions to ask include:

  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What about this position made you want to apply?
  • How familiar are you with our company and what we do?
  • What makes you want to work for us instead of our competitors?

Questions on Salary Expectations

While gaging a candidate to see if they are the right cultural fit and have leadership skills is important your time can be wasted if the candidate is seeking compensation outside of your salary range.

Asking this question on a phone screen can save you time making sure it aligns with each other.

Pre-screening interview questions to ask include:

  • What salary range are you targeting for this position?
  • Do you have certain benefits that are important to you?

Red Flags During a Phone Screen interview

  • Does not ask many questions about the position and seems only mildly interested
  • Has only negative things to say about previous employers
  • Mainly interested in what the job is paying and what benefits are available
  • Has not researched the company and knows little about the position they applied for.
  • Does not want to give references or makes excuses as to why they can’t be provided to access previous job performance


Pre-screening interviews are short interview questions for potential candidates to determine if they meet the open position criteria.

If a pre-screening conversation goes well, the candidate is often brought in for a face to face meeting. But these short questions serve to reduce the talent pool to the candidates most qualified, so you spend less time interviewing new applicants. 

As one of the leading engineering staffing agencies, we help employers recruit engineering, design, and IT Talent. Contact us about our Engineering recruiting services or IT staffing services

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