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One of the most time-consuming parts of identifying ideal candidates for a position is screening applicants, both before and after you decide which ones to interview. However, the right pre-interview questionnaire can take much of the guesswork out of screening candidates.

Why Make a Pre-Interview Questionnaire?

A pre-interview questionnaire offers several ways to speed up the employee selection process. For example, it can help you identify candidates who definitely wouldn’t be a good fit for the position or the company so that you don’t even need to waste time interviewing them. Using a questionnaire enables you to learn more about the candidate before they even set foot in the door for the interview.

Usually, this questionnaire would be directed at people who have already been selected for an interview, although sometimes they are used to screen candidates before choosing some to interview. By creating questionnaires for people who will be coming in for an interview, you reduce the amount of time your managers will spend interviewing them.

Questionnaires can also reduce the number of interviews you do and provide insight into what kinds of activities are most important to them. They also allow the prospective employee to provide more information about themselves and further details that are specific to the job they are interviewing for. This is important because most resumes aren’t customized to any specific job.

Pre-interview questionnaires can even help you improve the rate of offer acceptances because you will already know a lot more information about candidates before you even interview them and long before you make them an offer.

The Questions to Ask

A pre-interview questionnaire should contain questions that reveal information about the candidate’s job preferences, the best ways to manage them, their career goals, and their main frustrations and motivators. There is no standard list of questions managers should ask, so virtually anything goes, as long as you follow employment laws and don’t ask about protected information like political or religious views or sexual preference.

Most questionnaires target information that wasn’t revealed in the candidate’s resume or cover letter, for obvious reasons. The idea is to provide a fuller profile of the candidate before they even arrive for their interview.

The questions can be divided into several categories. The first is the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. These questions should quickly identify the areas in which they are proficient and those in which they are lacking. They are helpful because they provide information about specific skills that are required for the job you are hiring for.

The second category should cover the candidate’s biggest frustrations and motivators. These questions are important because they will help you identify how well the candidate will fit in with the work environment you provide. By asking about their motivators, you will be able to see whether they are things you already do or whether you might have to go out of your way to motivate them to get things done. These questions will also help you determine what it would be like to manage them and whether they will fit in well with your management style.

You might also ask questions to help you figure out the best way to attract them if you decide to make them an offer. For example, you can ask questions about what criteria they will use when they decide whether or not to accept a job offer. You can also find out how many other companies they have applied to recently and what their minimum starting salary is, which will help you eliminate candidates you can’t afford.

Finally, you can include a list of information for the candidate, like telling them that they must pass a drug test before they will be hired and informing them about what kind of retire is appropriate for an interview with your company. You can also remind them to bring any licenses that are required for the job with them to the interview and ask them to provide a list of the days and times that would be convenient to interview them.  

A Sample Pre-Interview Questionnaire

It’s important to make the questionnaire the appropriate length. Most employed candidates aren’t willing to spend more than 30 minutes filling out a pre-interview questionnaire, so you should select your questions wisely. This sample questionnaire includes many more questions than what you should ask so that you can pick and choose the questions that fit best what the things you need to know about job candidates. You can also add any questions of your own if something you want to know isn’t on this list.

Here is a list of possible questions to include:

  • Tell us what aspects of your current job you excel at. Which duties fall within your strengths?
  • What technical skills do you have that would apply to the job you are applying for? Include any information about appropriate licensing or certifications that would be required for this job.
  • Tell us about your people skills. What type of interpersonal skills do you have? How do these skills enable you to work within a team? What kinds of leadership skills do you have? Are you comfortable leading a group in completing a task?
  • Can you share an example of work that you have done, such as a website, presentation, or report? Share a description of the work here. Are you willing to bring the work to the interview if possible?
  • What question would you like us to ask during the interview? Tell us what the question would reveal about you and why you want us to ask it.
  • What are your job-related weaknesses, as pointed out by previous supervisors or co-workers?
  • What motivates you to perform at your best? Examples of motivators include pay, recognition, challenges, benefits, opportunities to learn, etc.
  • What makes a job fun?
  • What do you find frustrating about your work, supervisors or company?
  • Tell us how you think the perfect manager would supervise you and enable you to perform at your best.
  • Select the management traits you find to be the most helpful in a manager: close or loose supervision, regular or occasional communication, verbal or monetary recognition, team or individual projects, leadership opportunities within the team, a variety of tasks versus the same tasks every day, quality versus volume.
  • What do you expect to be in two years? Five years?
  • How will you decide whether to come work for us?
  • What other companies have you applied to recently?
  • Is there anyone specifically at our company you would like to speak with during your interview?
  • What is your minimum required starting salary?