What Is a Screening Interview? 5 Important Questions for HR to Ask

The recruitment process is an essential part of a functioning HR program. As the first step in the employee lifecycle, recruitment helps build well-qualified teams to drive your business goals. Yet the process has become somewhat of a burden for HR professionals, taking up significant time and resources that could otherwise be spent on more strategic initiatives.

According to a capital advisory firm Josh Bersin’s Time-to-Hire Factbook, “The 2023 projections show a significant increase in the longest hiring times for 3 out of 4 regions, suggesting that hiring in APAC, EMEA, and LATAM (Latin America) will be increasingly difficult and volatile this year.”

Additionally, a Robert Half study reveals that 62% and 77% of applicants lose interest in a job if they don’t hear back in 2 weeks (10 business days) or 3 weeks from the initial interview, respectively.

These alarming statistics are all the more reason to make your hiring process as efficient as possible. A screening interview, when done right, can save you valuable time and effort by revealing key insights before you invest any more effort into your candidate search. 

What Is a Screening Interview?

A screening interview is typically the first conversation you have with a candidate during the recruitment process and is a part of the first hiring round—or the pre-employment screening process. A screening interview may be an in-person, video, or phone interview— also known as a phone screen—or in some instances a questionnaire.

Screening interviews follow resume evaluations, after you’ve shortlisted a group of applicants that meet the minimum experience and education requirements for the position.

The goal of the screening interview is to determine which applicants possess the required qualifications for the role you are hiring for. It enables recruiters to decide which candidates will move to the next hiring round.

Aside from assessing applicants to see if they have the needed qualifications, a screening interview is a chance for the recruiter to further explain the position and company to the candidate. They can also ask about an applicants’ salary expectations and availability to work and answer any questions they may have about the position, company, or hiring process.

Benefits of a Screening Interview

The main function of a screening interview is to determine how fit a candidate is for the job by comparing their qualifications to the job requirements. Screening interviews help to rule out unfit applicants early on in the recruitment process, saving recruiters time and improving the pool of candidates as you move forward in the hiring process.

By reducing the number of candidates for later hiring rounds, HR can conduct fewer interviews, save on recruitment costs, and shorten the time to hire (especially with phone screens).

As a result, you can fill empty positions faster, maintain your team’s productivity level, and avoid reviewing applications and assignments from under qualified candidates.

Tips for Conducting an Effective Screening Interview

Screening interviews can reveal a significant amount of information about candidates when conducted strategically. 

Set appropriate hiring criteria

Setting hiring criteria that reflect the job requirements is a must, as it enables you to evaluate how suitable a candidate is for a position. Be sure to write clear and comprehensive job descriptions, and use this information to inform your questions.

Learn more: 5 Onboarding Specialist Job Description Examples

Come prepared

Use the criteria you’ve outlined in your job description to prepare your interview questions ahead of time. Think through the technical need for the position and which skills are essential versus nice to have. Be sure to ask each candidate the same standard questions to avoid bias.

Omni tip: Ask open-ended questions, as they give you more details about the applicants.

Take notes

You may think you’ll remember everything you discuss in your screening interview, but it’s best to take notes during and after the interview to refer back to. This ensures that nothing gets forgotten or overlooked, and helps you decipher each applicant after conducting several interviews.

5 Important Screening Interview Questions

These 5 screening interview questions help tap into the essential information you need to quickly assess the viability of your candidates. Use these examples as a guiding principle in your next screening interview.

1. Can you briefly describe your relevant experience and qualifications for this role?

This question allows you to quickly gauge if the candidate possesses the necessary qualifications and experience for the position. It helps filter out unqualified applicants early in the process, saving time and effort.

2. What motivated you to apply for this position and our company?

This question assesses the candidate’s genuine interest and alignment with your company and the role. It helps identify candidates who are a good cultural fit and genuinely enthusiastic about the opportunity, which can lead to higher retention rates and better job satisfaction.

3. Can you describe a recent challenge you faced in a similar role and how you overcame it?

This question evaluates the candidate’s problem-solving skills, resilience, and practical experience in the role. It provides insight into their ability to handle real work-related challenges, making it easier to identify those with relevant experience.

4. What are your salary expectations for this position?

Asking about salary expectations early in the process helps prevent wasting time on candidates whose salary expectations are misaligned with the company’s budget. It also allows you to assess if the candidate’s expectations are within the acceptable range for the role.

This question addresses practical considerations, such as the candidate’s location, commuting preferences, and availability. It helps ensure that the candidate can meet the job’s logistical requirements, saving time that might be wasted on candidates who cannot.

These screening interview questions help efficiently identify candidates who are not only qualified but also a good fit for the company and position. By addressing qualifications, motivation, problem-solving skills, salary expectations, and logistical constraints early in the process, you can streamline your efforts and focus on the most promising candidates, ultimately saving time and resources.

Read next: 10 Google Interview Questions to Inspire Your Hiring Process

Automate Your Way to Highly-Skilled Teams

Omni helps you streamline and automate your recruitment workflows, enabling you to attract, screen, and hire the best talent. Our platform allows you to sync all candidate applications in one place and easily collaborate with hiring managers to schedule screening interviews, send impactful communications, and analyze interview feedback.

With Omni’s recruitment workflows, you can send offers or rejections with just a few clicks, coordinate candidate interviews, share candidate feedback among management, and swiftly transition successful candidates into the onboarding process to ensure top performance and engagement.

Omni manages and automates time-consuming manual tasks to allow you and your recruitment team to focus on what’s really important: crafting impactful screening interview questions, establishing parameters to interpret candidates viability, and ultimately hiring award-winning talent.

Book a demo with our team today to learn more about how Omni can help revolutionize your employee management.

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