Pre Screening Job Applicants | Los Angeles | Great Hire Inc.
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Pre Screening Job Applicants

Screening Questions That You Should Always Ask A Job Applicant

What are you looking for in a job?

This question might seem like a simple opener, but in reality it gives you a chance to hear what they actually want. Pay attention to things they say they want that you cannot or will not provide as an organization or in this specific role. For example, when someone speaks wistfully about their creative process, chances are the systems admin job is not going to work for longer than it takes them to find a new gig. Conversely, if they say something you CAN provide, you can tip off the hiring manager to mention it during the live interview, a crucial arrow in the talent acquisition quiver.

What attracted you to this organization?

This allows the job seeker to show off their knowledge regarding the company and the position while giving you a chance to suss out whether or not they’ve adequately prepared. It also lets the interviewer compare answer #1 to answer #2. The goal is not to screen people out but to understand if the job seeker even knows what their goals are and can articulate them. It’s also to understand what attracts candidates to your company and whether your job advertisements are doing the opening justice.

How would you apply your skills to this job?

This takes the ever popular “Tell me what you’d do in your first 90 days” question and combines it with the “Why are you the right person for this position?” The answer gives you an idea of how they can apply their unique skillset (they already saw the job description right?) to the job you have available and whether or not they can think on their feet. Listen for specific numbers or examples of similar tasks performed before. If you understand what the position needs and how current candidates can fit into the position, it will be easier to fill in a timely manner. Considering 54% of employers have difficulties finding qualified candidates to fill their open positions, understanding exactly what the team needs can diminish time spent searching for the ideal candidate.

What quality/qualities are you looking for in a team/manager?

This depends on the position of course, but you need to know whether this person can deal with a team or manager and if so, what kind. If they rave about qualities like focus, vision and new opportunities, then great. If they focus more on what they DON’T want in a team or a manager, then you may have spotted a warning sign. A study by CareerBuilder shows that 50% of employers say that talking negatively about current or former employers is detrimental to a candidate’s interview. These negative implications could be harbingers of issues in teamwork upon hiring.

What is your biggest weakness and how do you plan to overcome it?

This question serves two purposes. The first if to find the answer to the question so you can adequately manage this person (or someone on your team can) and the second is to show that in your organization any weakness can be overcome and there is value assigned to those who try to tackle personal goals.

Tell me about your experience at ________ and what you’d do differently here.

This gives you a chance to analyze their answers around past employment or to tell you why they are choosing to leave. The most recent job is also the most likely to be similar to the one you’re offering, so is therefore, the most applicable. But the last piece of the question is the most important. By allowing them to take accountability to their previous work, you set the stage for a healthy work environment if and when you select them for the next round interview.

If you stick with screening questions that relate to a candidate’s qualifications, how their mistakes and successes molded them into the professional they are today, and why they were attracted to your organization in the first place it will be easier to make it through the interview without a hitch. Don’t forget one thing: six is the magic number, despite the average of ten screening questions many experts provide. 

Different Approaches To Pre-Screening Job Candidates

With cost-per-hire averaging just over $4,500 and the average time to fill ranging anywhere from 25 days (production positions) up to 88 days (executive positions) effective pre-screening job candidates can be one option to help streamline the recruitment and hiring process, ultimately reduce costs and help find the best talent for the organization.

Phone Interviews

The majority of organizations use pre-screening phone interviews as part of their process. Specifically, 74% of employers report using pre-screening phone interviews when attempting to fill their exempt positions and 55% report using them for non-exempt positions. In addition, pre-screening phone interviews tend to be used most often by larger, for-profit, non-manufacturing organizations.

Pre-screening interview questions ranged from  basic questions about candidates’ background, experience, and job responsibilities; type of job, manager, and organization sought; schedule, location, shift, and start date; knowledge about the company; reason for leaving; reason for looking; expected salary and compensation; and interest in the position. Employers also ask more self-reflective questions about work quality, career goals, managerial style, and motivation.

Third Party Recruiters

About two-thirds of participants make use of staffing agencies or third party recruiters, which can be another effective method of pre-screening job candidates. When asked how often they engaged these agencies, the most common response was “sometimes”, i.e. recruiters were specifically used for help on hiring seasonal workers or for an individual position. Particularly in cases where there is a very large pool of applicants using an outside agency can be very helpful in narrowing down the pile of resumes before calling in formal interviewees, so it was unsurprising to see that for smaller non-profit organizations, staffing agencies were a far less popular pre-screening solution than they were for larger manufacturers. However, even among those organizations with 50 or fewer employers about half still indicated using some type of third party recruiter or staffing agency, even if it was on very rare occasions.

Social Media

Due to various potential legal liabilities that have been addressed by the EEOC and in the courts over the past year, it is not entirely surprising that  very few organizations are using social media for formal screening purposes during the hiring process. For example, only 8% of those organizations reporting using social media do so for pre-screening purposes before bringing in a job candidate. In these few cases where social media tools are used as a formal screening tool, employers are typically looking at the basics, i.e. place of previous employment, job title or position held, job description or responsibilities and dates of previous employment. Evaluating more subjective items like opinions about personality, work culture fit, management/work style or motivation and options about job performance is, many would argue wisely, left largely to the more direct and traditional reference check method.