Pre-screening Strategies – Simple Recruiting Tips that Will Help You Filter & Pick the Best People

Hiring people is a time-consuming activity. While technology helps, it is still not fun to sift through tens and hundreds of applications every week. General HR wastes valuable time in finalizing the right candidates – like picking up needles from haystacks. This gives them less time to fulfill other responsibilities like planning appraisals, attending to employee grievances, managing payroll, training new recruits, onboarding, etc. This is a significant challenge in most companies worldwide. Especially when there is high demand for an open position and a comparatively low supply of qualified people. In such cases, it is the job of HR to leave no stone unturned. Every detail for every applicant must be logged and considered before deciding to either reject, hold, or accept applicants. How must one solve this inefficiency problem then? The secret is simple.

Pre-screening Interview Questions

What are pre-screening interview questions? These are simple questions that help you know more about your candidate. Each open position in your company comes with a different objective of recruitment. For example, open positions for customer service reps. Most employers hire and train freshly graduated folks with good communication skills and decent temperaments. These are low-budget roles that may or may not require expertise in a particular field. On the contrary, extremely specific knowledge-based roles like data scientists, software architects, or high-rise heavy crane operators need to be selected with the utmost attention. These roles require candidates to show great expertise and experience in what they do. Your pre-screening interview questions must therefore be crafted on a case-by-case basis and must never be a one-size-fits-all type. This is to ensure the maximum potency of your recruitment marketing strategies.

Why Pre-screening Interview Questions?

Opportunity cost: When you ask specific questions about the candidate, you get a clear understanding of their thought process. Asking general questions like, “What are your expectations from this role” or “Give an example of your involvement in a team-based activity/project from your previous role” gives you an idea of the candidate’s soft skills and ability to work under different, diverse scenarios. Similarly, asking role-specific questions like “How would you optimize a Google Ads campaign when X happens” or “What is a pixel tag, why is it important” gives you an idea of the candidate’s general level of awareness and expertise in his/her industry. When you carefully design such questions that serve a specific purpose, you essentially build an auto-filtering machine that accurately rejects and accepts candidates based on the parameters set by the manager or HR. For example, 100 candidates apply for 5 open positions in your company. This means, eventually, you will have to reject 95 candidates. If you don’t have a pre-screening strategy, you may have to call up each candidate to get to know them better and decide if you want to let them go further up the chain. This may take a week or even two weeks, depending on the number of people allocated to do this task. You waste valuable time during which your resources could have easily completed other non-recruitment-related tasks that needed their attention. Instead, they might have had to push their other tasks further to accommodate this task in their daily schedule or might have had to work overtime to complete recruitment and non-recruitment tasks on time. Either way, you lose out on holding off other tasks or risk burnout of existing employees. This misuse of opportunity cost can be avoided with a proper pre-screening strategy that is tested and well-placed.

Better candidate experience: Candidate experience is one of the most important aspects of recruiting. Better the candidate feels about the entire experience, the better the probability of them completing the full process. One of the biggest problems recruiters face with candidates, especially top talent, is ghosting. Think for a second from the perspective of a talented professional. She/he is in high demand because they have notable experience and a good track record of solving complex problems in their field. This makes them victims of ruthless headhunting recruiters. They often have multiple offers lying in their inbox at any given time. This is where they come from. Now, imagine such a talented person choosing to spend their valuable time interviewing with you and choosing to engage with your style of recruitment. So, if your company does not care about candidate experience, they have zero reasons to continue interviewing with you. They will find the next company that respects their time and is willing to keep things as simple as possible. A pre-screening strategy expedites the entire recruitment process. It filters out the bad apples from the good ones in the first step itself. This makes the rest of the process a cakewalk. Candidates are then more likely to stick to your method of recruiting because they will find it simple, clear, and direct rather than confusing, time-consuming, and indirect.

How to Build a Pre-screening Strategy

As discussed earlier, your approach to pre-screening interview questions cannot be a one-size-fits-all type of method, mainly because it filters out poorly and is inefficient. A more efficient way to build this strategy is to spend a reasonable amount of time formulating proper, meaningful questions for each role in your company. Start with broad, subjective questions, then hone into more specific and objective questions. This is generally a good strategy because it gives the recruiter a holistic understanding of the candidate and not just a partial understanding of their work and thought process.

Read more: 8 Recruiting Hacks That Recruiters Know They Must Use but Don't

Examples of Broad and Subjective Questions

  • How do you prefer to be managed?
  • What is an ideal manager for you?
  • Have you ever had a manager that is close to your ideal one?
  • What are some characteristics of a workplace culture that can help you enjoy your work?
  • What kind of career accomplishments can motivate you to thrive further in this job?
  • Have you ever been part of an unmotivated team? What did you do to keep yourself motivated?
  • What inspired you to apply for this job?
  • Are you willing to travel for work?
  • Are you available to work on weekends? For how many hours?
  • In your opinion, what types of challenges are you likely to face in this position?
  • What are you looking for in this job?
  • Can you list three of your strengths? What are your weaknesses? How can you overcome them?
  • Tell me a little about yourself.
  • What was the biggest challenge in your previous role/ you have ever faced (if the candidate has no prior experience)?
  • How do you describe your working style?

Length of the Questionnaire

Your main objective of building a pre-screening strategy is to grab as much information as quickly as possible. Ideally, a candidate must not be forced to spend more than 15 to 20 minutes on pre-screening interview questions. They might either lose interest and decide not to continue, or may answer dishonestly or inaccurately just to complete the formality of submitting the questionnaire – either not helpful to our cause. This is why it is important to test this strategy first, in a sandbox environment, before releasing it to the general public. Testing tells you what works and what doesn’t. Based on that input, you can tweak it and refine it to make it the perfect auto-filtering machine that takes the majority of the workload off your back.

Exela HR Solutions is a world leader in providing expert human resource outsourcing solutions right from recruitment and payroll to C&B, L&D, and HRBP services. Speak with us today to get involved.

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