Pre-Screening Interview

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Pre-Screening Interview

A pre-screening interview is usually the first step to getting your foot in the door with a company. Normally completed by phone, pre-screening interviews are often conducted by outsourced HR teams or recruiters who are gatekeepers to the interview process. The goal of the HR screening questions that are asked of each candidate in a pre-screening interview is to determine whether the candidate's qualifications match the job description and should be shortlisted and invited for a face-to-face interview.

The pre-screening questions asked are often very general in nature, but will be focused on certain areas directly relevant to the position at hand. These types of HR screening questions typically cover qualifications and experience, basic skills, strengths and weaknesses, geography (if relevant), availability, and/or preferred work environment.

Beginning with the end in mind:

Having screened more than a dozen candidates for my own teams in the past, and having also been through the screening process as a candidate several times, in my experience the best mindset for a pre-screening conversation is one of laid-back curiosity. That doesn't mean you should be too casual though. As a recruiter or HR professional, you have a list of qualifications that an applicant will need to meet to move forward in the interview process.

You're looking for all the characteristics of a great team player while also trying to get a sense of their technical aptitude and level of interest in the job. Asking the right questions, listening closely to the responses, allowing yourself to take notes, and being clear about expectations and timelines can help you quickly decide if this is someone who should move forward or not.

If the candidate feels under pressure in this conversation, it will set the tone for the rest of their hiring experience and can make it difficult for them to give honest and thoughtful answers without trying to “show off,” or feel like they have to impress you. As such, it's important to take some time to think about your questions thoroughly before conducting a pre-screening interview.

One easy way to get started is a "Pre-screening interview questions template." Consider this a starting point—you can add or delete questions, but having a set list of HR screening questions helps ensure your process is consistent and keeps the interviewee's answers focused.

Here are some common pre-screening interview questions to get you started:

• Tell me about your favorite aspect of your previous role.

• What made you consider the role we're hiring for?

• As you know, we're hiring for (X) position, and have our hearts set on someone with (Y) skills, who's already done this successfully in a previous company. Tell me about your experience with (Y) skills and how you used them in your previous role.

I realize this last question is a long one, but it gets to the applicant's behavioral aspect of the interview process. Do they have the skills to perform well in the role and how would they behave when faced with the challenges? You can easily adapt these questions to fit your own job posting and the candidate's qualifications.

If you're looking for great screening interview questions, chat with someone on our team. Pillar has a library of more than 1000 questions you can use as prompts in your interviews. These questions allow our interview intelligence software to gather candidate insights to make better hiring decisions.

Pre-Screening Interview Questions and Answers

The power of a pre-screening interview is that it weeds out unqualified candidates from the start, saving your internal team time and allowing them to stay focused on the day-to-day activities that keep your company profitable. Your applicant pool will be fed through the pre-screening process to see if they're actually fit for the role before assessing company and team fit. Pre-screening interview, meaning that it's a critical first step in your hiring process.

It's important to craft thoughtful questions that will give you the insight and information you need to determine whether or not an applicant is qualified for a role. Say, for example, you're hiring your first AE and your company sells a MarTech Product. This is a critical role because your founder is passing their knowledge onto this new hire who will become the front-line salesperson for your company. Meaning, every prospective customer's first interaction with your brand will be through this person.

A great set of pre-screening interview questions and answers would be:

  1. Tell me about your previous experience in B2B SaaS sales.
  2. Have you ever sold to marketers before?
  3. What's a cold outreach process look like to you?
  4. Can you describe how you would find qualified leads and then reach out to them?
  5. What sales, CRM, and pipeline management tools are you familiar with?
  6. Tell me about your previous sales cycle.
  7. How long do you think a sales cycle should be?
  8. Have you ever closed ($XX,000) deals before?
  9. Tell me about the last big prospect objection you were faced with that almost tanked a deal.
  10. How did you overcome the objection?
  11. How do you handle the silence and rejection of front-line sales?
  12. Tell me about how you stay motivated and connected to the team especially when things are slow.
  13. How do you like to work? Remote, Hybrid, in office?

You can learn more about hiring great sales teams in our e-book, "How to Hire Great Salespeople," but as you can see, we're covering the necessary questions to understand our candidate's level of skills, knowledge, and abilities in each of the core functions, they will be required to perform.

One of the ways to simplify the questioning process in your pre-screening interviews is to use a video interview platform. Platforms like Pillar use Ai to assess candidates' vocal queues and tonal changes, microexpressions, and other variables - to get a better understanding of the candidates fit for the role. With tools like these, you can easily compare each applicant's answers, save time by eliminating manually watching through every single video interview, and get an inside view into their unique personality traits to determine which candidate will be the best hire for your business.

This allows you to create an objective scoring system to identify the best candidates.

Pre-Screening Questions and Answers

Now that you've seen examples of the pre-screening questions in the previous section, let's use that same AE scenario to create a pre-screening question and answer template:

Question: Tell me about your previous experience in B2B SaaS sales.

Answer: I have over three years of experience in B2B SaaS sales and have worked on key accounts such as Google, Microsoft, and Adobe. I was responsible for managing the entire end-to-end sales process from lead generation to closing deals.

Question: Have you ever sold to marketers before?

Answer: Yes, I have. I worked with several marketing teams during my time at my previous company, and also had success selling to CMOs and other executives in the industry.

Question: What's a cold outreach process look like to you?

Answer: My cold outreach process typically consists of researching potential prospects, crafting personalized emails or messages tailored to their needs and pain points, and then following up with them at the right times. I also use social media to identify new leads and create relationships before initiating a sales conversation.

Question: Can you describe how you would find qualified leads and then reach out to them?

Answer: When it comes to finding qualified leads, I utilize multiple resources such as industry websites, directories, and databases. I also utilize professional networking sites to find and connect with qualified leads. Once a lead has been identified, I craft an email or message tailored specifically to their needs before reaching out.

Question: What sales, CRM, and pipeline management tools are you familiar with?

Answer: I'm familiar with ZoomInfo, Salesforce, HubSpot, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator. I also have experience customizing pipelines to ensure that each lead is properly tracked and monitored for optimal sales performance.

One of the best things that you can do in the pre-screening phase of any interview process is to identify what a pass/ fail scenario looks like. For example, if your candidate has no previous SaaS or sales experience, they may be a, "no." By setting clear criteria for each role, and identifying the required answer to each question before the screening process begins, you can ensure that you are hiring the right talent for your team.

Ultimately, screening questions for recruiters should serve as a guide to help you quickly identify which candidates are truly qualified and passionate about their work. This will allow you to make better decisions when it comes time to hire top sales talent

Want to see an efficient and very effective hiring process? Checkout; “The Ultimate Interview Checklist.”

If you're considering a pre-screening interview platform or interview intelligence tool to help you make better hires, Book your demo of Pillar today. We've helped some of the world's leading companies improve their hiring success rate by providing them with a comprehensive pre-screening process that ensures they get the right people on board.