Interviewing for a new position can be a time-consuming task for human resources managers. Using nearly 85,000 interview reviews to come to a conclusion, employment resource Glassdoor reports that the average length of the hiring process, globally, is over 20 days. In some cities and industries, this can be much longer. For example, in New York, the average interview process can take more than 33 days, and for government positions, the process can take nearly 55 days. So how can recruiters shorten this process in order to fill a position with the right person quicker? The answer is a pre-interview questionnaire. In this blog, we’ll look at how they work and the types of questions to ask on an interview questionnaire.
What is a Pre-Interview Questionnaire?
Weeding out candidates who aren’t a good fit for a position can be difficult. So, a pre-interview questionnaire asks employee candidates a series of questions that allow companies to learn more about them prior to the actual in-person (or virtual) interview. It asks them to provide information about their job preferences, career goals, preferred management style, key motivators, and more. This information helps human resource managers decide if the candidate is a good fit for the open position within the organization. Usually, this questionnaire is given only to candidates who are selected for an interview. However, it is sometimes used as a quick “first cut” assessment tool to screen out a few candidates from the original interview pool.
Pros and Cons of Using a Pre-Interview Questionnaire
There are a number of advantages and some disadvantages when it comes to using a pre-interview questionnaire. Here’s a look at the top three pros and cons of using them.
Benefits of a Pre-Interview Questionnaire
- It can save a lot of time since the candidates answer questions without the HR manager or hiring professional having to be present. It also can reduce the number of interviews that need to be conducted by screening out some candidates right away. Learn more about screening questions.
- It provides documentation since answers from candidates are written and/or typed and recorded. Responses can be referred to later if necessary. For example, if a candidate is hired but doesn’t seem able, their pre-interview questionnaire can be brought up and used to compare their stated experience to their performance.
- They are completely customizable, requiring candidates to provide additional information that may not be readily available on their resume or portfolio. This is especially true when deciding if a candidate is a fit for a particular work culture.
Challenges with Pre-Interview Questionnaires
Of course, there are some potential challenges when using a pre-interview questionnaire (aside from its initial creation). Some things to keep in mind:
- Some candidates, especially those in high demand, may not have the time or may decline the questionnaire, so you could lose out on a great hire.
- Candidates may attempt to “guess” what answers you want to hear in order to be considered, even if they don’t mean it. They may also stretch the truth in order to appear more qualified for the position.
- An organization’s employees may spread the word to candidates on what might be considered “good answers” which skews answers and results.
Types of Questions to Ask on a Pre-Interview Questionnaire
So you’re ready to create your pre-interview questionnaire. Where to begin? Well, there is no standard format for pre-interview questionnaires. Most organizations focus on identifying information about the candidate that is generally not in their resume or that is usually not discussed during interviews because of time limitations. However, some organizations also include some actual interview questions in order to reduce the time required for formal interviews.
Some types of questions you may want to consider asking on your pre-interview questionnaire include the following. Of course, you can adjust the questions based on the position you’re hiring for. You can also use ranked or scaled questions, along with your open-ended questions (read more in our free survey guide).
20 Questions to Ask on a Pre-Interview Questionnaire
- What type of professional tasks do you excel at?
- How can you apply your skills and knowledge to this job?
- Do you possess any skills or knowledge that might be useful for this position that aren’t listed on your resume?
- What are your strengths? How do you capitalize on them?
- Describe your weaknesses, and tell us how you think you can overcome them?
- What are your professional goals? What would you like to be doing in three years? Five years?
- In your opinion, what does the perfect manager look like to you?
- What normally frustrates you most about managers?
- How are your interpersonal skills?
- What has frustrated you about previous jobs?
- How would you describe your regular work style?
- What does a normal day at your current or most previous job look like?
- Tell us something you wish you had done differently at your previous job?
- What are three of your career accomplishments so far?
- In your opinion, what makes a job fun?
- Why did you quit your last job? Or, why do you want to leave your current job?
- Have you applied anywhere else?
- What are you looking for in a job?
- Tell us what do you want to get out of this job?
- What is the minimum starting salary you will accept?
In her Forbes article “Pre-Employment Testing: A Helpful Way for Companies to Screen Applicants,” Lisa Quast says when administered properly, pre-employment testing can “help companies save time and cost in the selection process, decrease turnover, increase productivity, and improve morale.” So, are you ready to start using pre-interview questionnaires? Start today with SurveyLegend! You can create professional, secure, and responsive questionnaires and surveys online, and it’s free to sign up.
Do you use pre-interview questionnaires now? Do you find them beneficial? Any questions to ask on them that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a pre-interview questionnaire?
A questionnaire that asks employee candidates a series of questions that allow companies to learn more about them prior to the actual in-person (or virtual) interview.
Why should I use a pre-interview questionnaire?
Pre-interview questionnaires save a lot of time since the interviewer doesn’t need to be present. It also provides documentation for follow-up, should the new hire not match their stated qualifications.
How long does the hiring process take?
Glassdoor reports that the average length of the hiring process, globally, is over 20 days. In some cities and industries, this can be much longer.