Candidate Prescreening Tips

for Small Businesses

At Comprehensive Consulting Solutions for Small Businesses, we work with small business owners to help them maximize profit or increase efficiencies through marketing, planning, recruiting, and more. As we mentioned in a previous blog about recruiting pipeline, finding talent has been a hot topic for many of our clients. We wanted to review some tips to help with prescreening questions.

Most businesses need employees but how do employers pick the right person for the position?

Pre-screening interviews can play an essential role in the selection process of determining if the candidate is a good fit for the company. By understanding what the pre-screening process is, we can help small business owners manage and increase efficiency of time-management.

What is Pre-Screening? According to Working with Grace: Top Tips for Pre-screen Interview Success, “Pre-screen interviews are usually conducted by the organization's Human Resources (HR) representatives or recruiters to narrow down applicants in the candidate selection process, saving the hiring manager's time while learning more about the qualified candidates prior to the actual in-person interview.”

For example, if a business has a designated HR department or recruiters, these staff members can narrow down a list of potential candidates prior to an actual in-person interview. If the business doesn’t have a HR department, an admin staff or the business owner can conduct the prescreen. A prescreen interview saves time – some candidates will be ruled out and only the candidates that are highly qualified will be scheduled for in-person interviews.

In general, a pre-screening is a great way to help the interviewer understand the candidate by asking typical surface level questions that shed some insight on their characteristics, career goals, aspirations, any particular set of special skills or abilities, or anything else relative to the specific job, title, or position.

Another method of pre-screening can be utilized by offering aptitude tests (ability to understand and apply a skillset), an assessment test to measure cognitive ability, or physical ability tests. Shrm says, “An organization that makes good hiring decisions tends to have higher productivity and lower turnover, which positively affects the bottom line. Hiring the wrong people can have a negative impact on employee morale and management time and can waste valuable training and development dollars. Pre-employment testing and new screening tools and technology can help HR professionals minimize hiring time and select the most qualified individual who best fits the organization."

How to administer a Pre-Screening interview?

Due to the recent global pandemic, many small and medium sized businesses have gone through extensive challenges within their businesses. As the economy slowly reopens, many are conducting pre-screening interviews over the phone, video chat, or introducing online surveys rather than conducting in-person interviews.

Examples of Pre-Screening Questions:

The following questions are samples that can help gauge and reveal information relevant to a candidate’s experience, background, skills, personality type, and more. The pre-screening conversation can take anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes. Below, you will find some examples of pre-screening interview questions for candidates.

We would also suggest adding questions based around the job responsibilities and skillset needed for the position. Ask situational or behavioral questions instead of just close-ended questions (yes or no) to hear stories. Stories can portray a different look at how the candidate acts, responds, and thinks. Stories may make the prescreen run longer but will save time in the long run!

As always, focus on the ability of the candidate to meet the job responsibilities and never ask a candidate questions about their personal situation – marriage, kids, etc. For more on what not to ask, check out the Resources Section below.

  • 1. Can you tell me about your experience at your last company?
  • 2. What are your goals for professional development? How will getting this job help you advance toward your professional development goals?
  • 3. Tell me about your current job and responsibilities? Why do you want to leave?
  • 4. Why do you want to work here?
  • 5. What attracted you to our company? Have you ever utilized our company’s services or products?
  • 6. How do you typically manage projects and prioritize tasks?
  • 7. Describe a time that you dealt with an unhappy customer at your current job? What was it and how did you resolve it?
  • 8. What are some characteristics of a company culture that help you do your best work and help you enjoy your time at work? In previous employment, which company’s culture has been the most supportive of you and your work?
  • 9. Describe a time when you were up against a deadline? What would you do differently if given an opportunity?
  • 10. Tell me about a time when you’ve faced a difficult challenge at your current or previous position? Walk me through the challenge and how you resolved it?
  • 11. What is your dream job and why?
  • 12. What are your top 2 strengths and weaknesses?

Final thoughts - Pre-screening Interview Questions for Candidates:

As a business owner, finding the right employee is crucial and that is why pre-screening is so important! A great organization is one that has a strong foundation - an organization that makes great hiring decisions tend to have a more productive and successful work environments.

P.s. Just remember, YOUR company can make a HUGE impact with the RIGHT employee!

Resources for Prescreening Candidates:

8 Questions You Should Absolutely Ask An Interviewer

Illegal Interview Questions -

How to avoid illegal interview questions

15 Questions You Can’t Ask Employees

15 Phone Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

Other Blogs:

Recruiting and Hiring

Recruiting Resources for Small Businesses in Northwest Arkansas

Staffing and Small Business

Recruiting and LinkedIn, Recruiting Pipeline and Small Businesses

Please note: the resources listed above aren’t endorsements by us – they are provided only as information. We were not paid by or affiliated with any of the companies listed.

Comprehensive Consulting Solutions for Small Businesses offers consulting and coaching solutions. We can help you with the necessary building blocks to enhance your business! We help business owners with recruiting talent through the development of a strategy and tactics. We also help some clients with the actual recruiting of new candidates through the utilization of LinkedIn, Indeed, and Facebook to find talent and then prescreens to help identify the 7 to 10 best candidates to interview. We can help with recruiting, but for HR Consulting services, we will introduce you to our HR Partners. For more information, call a Small Business Consultant today.