Organizational Wellness

Screening Interviews: A Valuable Tool for Finding Top Talent

Jul 8, 2024
Last Updated Jul 8, 2024

Have you ever hired someone only to realize they weren’t the right fit? You’re not alone. 

Three out of four employers have hit this road bump, according to Career Builder. The fallout from this misstep is significant: productivity drops, work quality suffers, and valuable time is lost on hiring and training. A bad hire can cost you financially too, to the tune of  $17,000 — a hefty price.

You can get a step closer to avoiding these headaches with a simple tweak to your hiring process: Screening interviews. By asking effective questions early on, you can identify red flags and zero in on the ideal candidate. This not only saves you time and money but also ensures your team remains strong and cohesive.

Ready to transform your hiring strategy? Dive in to start making better hiring decisions today!


What Is a Screening Interview?

A screening interview is an initial conversation conducted between a recruiter or HR representative and a job candidate. This interview serves as a preliminary assessment to determine whether the candidate possesses the basic qualifications and experience necessary for the role. It is typically shorter and less formal than a full interview, focusing on key criteria that can help narrow down the pool of applicants.

This is a great way to start narrowing your hiring options from a large pool of qualified applicants early in the recruitment process. You can hold an in-person, online, or phone screening interview with shortlisted candidates to determine who is most suitable for a job position. 

It also serves as an opportunity for HR leaders to: 

  • Explain the role to a potential employee
  • Ask questions to evaluate whether someone meets the requirements for a job position and whether the role aligns with the applicant's expectations
  • Answer questions a candidate may have about the organization, job position, or talent acquisition procedures

An effective screening interview provides insight into a candidate's skills and how the person can help your company achieve its goals. As a result, you recruit the best fit for the job, reducing the chances of bad hires, such as employees who are not team players or whose skills don't match their role. 

Valuable Screening Interview Questions

Typically, when candidates reach the screening interview, they've already passed a careful evaluation of education and work experience. They have at least the minimum qualifications necessary to succeed in the role, but you still need to choose the best fit from several options.

With effective interview questions, you can select the most suitable candidate by diving deep into each person's qualifications, motivations, and achievements without prompting applicants to provide answers they think you want to hear. 

Can You Tell Me About Yourself? 

This question can help you spark a casual conversation and get to know someone beyond their resume. Its main goal is to take a quick snapshot of a candidate's educational background, professional experience, and personal motivations. This all helps you determine whether or not they’d be a good fit for the position. 

Why Do You Want to Work Here? 

You want to hire someone whose job expectations match what your company offers regarding career development and pay. Additionally, the right person believes in your organization's values, mission, and cause. Folks passionate about what you do and stand for are typically willing to go the extra mile to help your firm prosper. It's also easy for them to find meaning in their job, which reduces employee absenteeism and improves retentionaccording to Gallup

Why Should We Hire You? 

Chances are, your job offer attracts tens or hundreds of applicants. When you ask this question, the right candidate will explain what sets them apart from others you might be interviewing. A potential employee with the best qualifications and professional achievements relevant to a job may stand out.

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years? 

The aim is to see how a candidate would like to grow and progress in their profession and whether your company will be in a position to help them reach their ambition. In other words, do their future expectations align with the role they are applying for? 

For example, if someone is interviewing for a marketing position and expects to lead more complex marketing projects in five years, that shows they'd like to grow in this role in a way that you can reasonably support them. On the other hand, a person applying for a marketing position who would want to become a user experience designer in the future might not be a good fit for the job. 

Additionally, you want to recruit an individual who plans to work for your company long-term. That's because hiring a new employee can be four times the cost of retaining one

Do You Have Any Questions About This Role? 

The last part of the screening interview addresses the candidate's queries. Whether it's about the next steps, your company culture, or a specific issue about the role, answer the questions in detail to help the candidate learn more. 

Best Practices for Conducting Screening Interviews

The tips below can help you effectively vet applicants in job interviews and recruit the most suitable individual for the job: 

Learn About the Open Position Before the Interview

When screening candidates, you evaluate whether an applicant has what it takes to succeed on the job. However, achieving this goal is only possible if you are well-versed in the job's requirements. 

To correctly judge whether a potential employee is suitable for a role, list the roles and responsibilities related to the job. Note the skills, knowledge, technological tools, and other things necessary to perform those tasks. With this information, you can develop interview questions tied to the job requirements and effectively assess if someone is the right choice based on their responses.

Review an Applicant's Resume in Advance

You want the interview to be effective and as brief as possible. One way to achieve this is by having basic information about a candidate's skills, certifications, and qualifications at your fingertips. As a result, you will not ask questions already answered in someone's resume, helping you save time. Additionally, you won't have to constantly check an individual's job application during the interview. 

Make Candidates Feel Comfortable

Face-to-face screening can make even the bravest applicants nervous, which explains why 92% of Americans have job interview anxiety. Apprehensiveness can make it difficult for candidates to communicate their skills and experiences effectively during the meeting. The good news is that there's something you can do about it. 

A warm, friendly greeting, a genuine smile, and a handshake can make a job seeker feel comfortable. Having small talks before jumping into the formal interview may also break the ice between you and the interviewee. The goal is to create a welcoming environment that sets the right tone from the beginning of the interview. 

Explain the Role in Detail

Job descriptions and ads may be brief because of limited word count. The screening interview is an opportunity to provide a full range of responsibilities you expect them to take if you hire them. Be clear about what the company is looking for in candidates, and spell out any non-negotiable elements of the job. That way, applicants have all the information they need to decide whether the position is a good fit. 

Gather and Evaluate Job Seeker's Responses

Asking the right questions might not be enough. You need to listen keenly to the answers you get and assess them carefully. You can take notes of every candidate's responses and, after the interview, compare the answers of all interviewees side-by-side. This allows you to gauge their strengths and weaknesses to identify who best suits your requirements. 

Technology and Tools for Streamlining Screening Interviews

Traditionally, interviews relied on manual processes and were limited to in-person meetings. Today, digital tools have improved the hiring process—you can automate applicant screening and conduct interviews online thanks to the following advanced technologies: 

Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

A software tool like Zoho Recruit streamlines the entire recruitment procedure to save time. Instead of manually reviewing job applications to identify who to invite for an interview, which is slow and time-consuming, ATS automatically screens resumes to speed up the process. It can also automate interview scheduling. 


Video Conferencing Tools

Virtual meeting platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams come in handy if you're hiring remote workers or just want to interview candidates conveniently. They allow you to communicate face-to-face with applicants via video and audio. 

Interview Scheduling Solutions

Scheduling meetings over the phone or via email can be difficult, especially if there's a time zone difference. With technologies like Calendly, Google Calendar, or Doodle, you can easily set the date and time of an interview without emailing or calling candidates back and forth.  

Attract Top Talent With Workforce Wellness

Screening interviews, as the name suggests, help you assess the competence and qualifications of candidates, provided you ask insightful questions. You then use the insights to choose the best. 

However, even the highest quality job interviews would be ineffective if people applying for a position in your company don't meet your requirements. Since 96% of workers will only consider organizations that prioritize employee wellbeing the next time they look for a job, wellness programs like gym memberships can draw top talent to your job offer. 

Wellhub can help you provide holistic wellness benefits to attract the best professionals. Speak with a wellbeing specialist today to learn more!

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!

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Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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