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10 Essential Screening Interview Questions You Have To Ask

Posted by Optimize | Feb 6, 2017 11:15:00 AM

Asking screening interview questions is an effective way of identifying which applicants you think are best suited for the job and your company. These types of questions are usually asked on the phone. After speaking to all the candidates, you can easily determine who should be offered a face-to-face interview. Here are some screening questions that will help you create a shortlist and find the best person for your next hire.


1. What sparked your interest?

This is one of the best screening interview questions to start with as you can quickly find out whether they're genuinely interested in the job. Many people apply for a job due to travel convenience or the salary rather than being interested by the job itself, the responsibilities and opportunities. Ask this question to find out why the applicant applied for the job in the first place.


2. Where do you see yourself in 2 years?

'Where do you see yourself in 5 years' is always popular but trying to think about where you will be in 5 years is a difficult question. Most people have a clearer idea of what they want to be doing in the next two years. You can also ask the candidate on what career role they like to see themselves in to get a better idea if they're going to be staying in your company for the long term. 


3. Tell me...about us

If an applicant spends the time to do research about the company, it strongly suggests they're interested in the job role and want to work with you. The best candidates are those who engage with the company brand and show interest in how the company has grown over the years. 


4. What salary are you looking for?

This is an important question to ask when screening applicants. If an applicant is expecting quite a lot more than you're willing to offer then there's no point offering them a face-to-face interview. Asking for a salary range is fine.


5. Have you thought about relocation at all?

For any job vacancy you post, you will probably get a few candidates who live 20+ miles away or are located on the other side of the country. Now is a good time to ask whether they're interested in relocating because you don't want to go through the entire interview process to discover they can't move.


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6. Can you explain your understanding of the job role?

Nowadays more people are frantically applying for jobs because of the job title, rather than reading the complete job description. 

Ask the candidate on how they interpret the job specification to see if they actually understand what is involved. This helps you determine whether they are familiar with the responsibilities and if they would be able to confidently do this job.


7. What skills do you have which will make you the best candidate?

This gives the applicant a chance to talk and tell you why they think they're suitable for the role. If they're genuinely interested in the job and your company, their answer will be full of supported reasons. If the applicant sounds uninterested or is failing to give you one or two reasons, then you'll know they shouldn't be invited to a face-to-face interview. They can be kept very broad at this stage.


8. Why do you think you're a great fit for us?

Again, this is another question which gives the applicant a chance to explain why they think they're suitable. The applicant can talk about their skills, experiences or perhaps their values. More serious candidates will have a convincing response to this question.


9. What do you like to do outside of work?

Rather than say, "Tell me about yourself", ask the applicant, "what do you like to do outside of work?" or "what do you do in your free time?" This gives you a chance to learn a bit about the candidate's personality. While "Tell me about yourself" is fine, it doesn't give the applicant a clear direction on what to talk about and makes it an unhelpful interview question. Giving them a directed question means you get better answers.

By learning more about a candidate's own interests, you can get a good sense on whether they will gel with other people in the company. If you think their personality or interests are incompatible with your company's values, then you will know this applicant cannot go any further.



Screening next steps: have you thought of this?

Once you're armed with the essential questions to ask, you need to figure out which screening method is best for you. Most HR teams choose telephone interviews because it's a common interview practice but there is another method you can use which we feel is much more effective. We're a big fan of video.


Video Screening

Video screening is fairly new to the scene but it's growing in popularity. It has all the benefits of telephone screening and more. 

The interviewer can send some questions to the applicant who will then video record their answers. It's a faster way of interviewing because you can send the same questions to all your applicants and then watch all their responses at your leisure. Without a doubt, you can get more out of video screening compared to asking questions on the phone. You can see the applicant and get a good idea of whether they're perfect the job (or not).

For example, if you're hiring for a sales position, a video screening interview will give you the opportunity to see how people present themselves. Do they look shy when talking to the camera? Are they overbearing? 

Video Interview Screening on Optimize


Optimize provides video screening as part of its all-in-one talent acquisition software. Video responses are stored in Optimize's applicant tracking system where you can watch the responses, add comments and rate the candidates. It's a faster and more effective way of screening candidates.

You can try an Optimize demo for free, see how our software works and improves the hiring process.


Book A Free Optimize Demo



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Topics: HR, Interviews

Written by Optimize

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