How to Master the Pre-Interview Screening Process

Person sitting on a bench checking their smartphone

Now that you’ve written a great job description and applicants are pouring in, it’s time to start the pre-interview screening process.

This step is all about finding the most qualified candidates and weeding out anyone unqualified. Select your top 5 candidates based off resume and cover letter. Research them on the internet or by calling references, moving onto other candidates as needed.

Pre-screening before a face-to-face interview can eliminate visual distractions and also give under-the-radar applicants the opportunity to shine. Keep the phone call to about 15 minutes per candidate, it’s only a pre-screen so you want it to be time-effective.

If you choose to use social media to screen applicants, which many employers do, make sure to follow best practices and only use professional sites such as LinkedIn, instead of personal sites.


Steps to Prepare for a Screening

#1 Setting Expectations

Have specific questions you want to ask ready to go and if you find any topics that stood out to you on the candidate’s resume, be ready to address them.

As a courtesy to the candidate, make sure they know what to expect in the phone call or video conference.

Closing the pre-interview screen should set expectations for moving forward. Let them know when you will be in contact and stick to that. If this step went well, it’s a good time to make selling points on your company.

#2 Choosing a Platform

Many companies are choosing to use Skype or one-way videos for pre-screens instead of traditional phone calls. Skype is a great option if you’re hiring for a position that appearance is important, like sales.

If you need to screen multiple applicants in a short period of time you would choose one-way videos. This approach allows you to record specific questions that can be sent so select or all candidates. Then, the candidate can record their answers at their own convenience and even re-record before submitting the video. This also saves their answers for you to reference whenever needed.

#3 Eliminate Distractions

Make sure you eliminate all distractions, especially if you choose to do this over the phone. Avoid multitasking or using the speakerphone. Make sure you won’t be interrupted at this time as you should expect the same from the candidate.

When you focus on the task at hand you will be able to detect subtleties in the conversation that would otherwise go unnoticed.

#4 Documentation

At this point you don’t need to compare candidates to each other directly but it’s useful to rate main points like education, experience, communication, attitude, and company fit. Document these things as well as paraphrasing their answers to your questions.

Then, record the most important information in a company applicant tracking system. Doing this could save your business from a discrimination claim in the future. Just make sure all your notes are directly related to the job.

The pre-interview screening process should be short and sweet. You want to get to the point without forgetting anything. Preparing, practicing, and eliminating distractions will ensure the pre-interview screen is effective for you and the candidate.

5 Do’s and Don’ts for Pre-Interview Phone Calls

  1. Don’t wing it.
  2. Do make notes about tone, not just words.
  3. Don’t use a speakerphone.
  4. Do listen for clichés.
  5. Don’t sugarcoat your questions.
Read the full article, here.

A Savvy Candidate Will Also Have Questions for You

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” – Voltaire
You’re looking for a candidate that’s experienced, enthusiastic, and interested in the position and your company. Often the candidates that seem to shine through the crowd are the ones that made you think by asking questions they came up with themselves. Taking a new position is a big decision and the candidate should have questions for you.

Now that you have mastered the pre-interview screening process and are onto finding the perfect new employee for your business, it’s time to think about retention. Download our new guide below!

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