Essential Prescreening Interview Questions: Streamline Your Hiring Process

Prescreening interview questions are very important time-savers in the recruitment process. They help employers quickly identify promising candidates before investing time in full interviews.

By asking the right questions early on, you can streamline your hiring process and improve your chances of finding the perfect fit for your team.

The goal of prescreening is to gather essential information efficiently. These questions should be concise, relevant, and designed to elicit informative responses. They typically cover basic qualifications, availability, salary expectations, and cultural fit.

One key prescreening question is about the candidate's current employment status. This helps you understand their availability and potential start date. It's also a good idea to ask about their reasons for leaving their current or last job. This can provide insights into their motivations and career goals.

Inquiring about salary expectations is another crucial prescreening step. It ensures that both parties are on the same page regarding compensation, potentially saving time later in the process. However, be mindful of local laws regarding salary history questions.

Ask about the candidate's specific skills and experience related to the job. This could include questions about relevant software proficiency, industry knowledge, or specific achievements. These questions help you quickly assess if the candidate has the necessary qualifications.

20 Essential Prescreening Questions:

  1. Why are you interested in this position?
  2. What is your current employment status?
  3. When would you be available to start if offered the position?
  4. What are your salary expectations for this role?
  5. Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?
  6. Are you willing to undergo a background check and drug test if required?
  7. What is your highest level of education completed?
  8. Do you have [specific skill/certification] required for this position?
  9. How many years of experience do you have in [relevant field]?
  10. Can you briefly describe your most relevant work experience for this role?
  11. What is your preferred work environment (e.g., remote, in-office, hybrid)?
  12. Are you comfortable with [specific job requirement, e.g., travel, shift work]?
  13. What interests you most about our company?
  14. How does this position align with your career goals?
  15. Can you provide an example of how you've handled a challenging situation in a previous role?
  16. What is your greatest professional achievement?
  17. How would you describe your ideal work culture?
  18. What type of management style do you work best under?
  19. Are there any specific tools or software you're proficient in that relate to this role?
  20. Do you have any questions about the position or company?

Regarding EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and OFCCP (Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs) requirements:

It's important to note that while prescreening questions aren't directly regulated by these agencies, they should still adhere to non-discrimination principles. Avoid questions that could be seen as discriminatory based on protected characteristics such as age, race, gender, religion, disability, or national origin.

However, there are some questions that federal contractors (subject to OFCCP regulations) may need to include for data collection purposes:

  1. Gender: Applicants should be given the option to self-identify their gender.
  2. Race/Ethnicity: Applicants should be given the option to self-identify their race/ethnicity.
  3. Disability Status: Applicants should be given the opportunity to voluntarily self-identify as an individual with a disability.
  4. Veteran Status: Applicants should be given the opportunity to voluntarily self-identify as a protected veteran.

It's crucial to note that these demographic questions must be:

  • Voluntary (the applicant can choose not to answer)
  • Kept separate from the application that the hiring manager reviews
  • Used only for data collection and reporting purposes, not for making hiring decisions

Always consult with legal counsel to ensure your prescreening process complies with all applicable laws and regulations, as requirements can vary based on your location, industry, and whether you're a federal contractor.

It's also valuable to include a question about the candidate's interest in your company. This can reveal how much research they've done and their level of enthusiasm for the role. Engaged candidates are more likely to be committed and successful if hired.

Consider asking about the candidate's preferred work environment. This can help you determine if they're a good fit for your company culture. For instance, you might ask about their experience with remote work if that's relevant to the position.

Time management and problem-solving skills are crucial in most roles. Include a question that asks candidates to describe how they've handled tight deadlines or resolved conflicts in previous positions.

Remember, prescreening questions should be consistent for all candidates applying for the same role. This ensures fairness and makes it easier to compare responses. It's also important to keep these initial questions relatively brief. The goal is to gather key information quickly, not to conduct a full interview.

After the prescreening, review the responses carefully. Look for red flags as well as positive indicators. Use this information to decide which candidates to move forward to the next stage of the hiring process.


  1. How many prescreening interview questions should I ask? Aim for 5-10 questions. This is usually enough to gather essential information without overwhelming the candidate.
  2. Can prescreening interviews be conducted via email? Yes, email can be an efficient way to conduct prescreening. However, phone or video calls can provide more immediate insights.
  3. Should I include job-specific technical questions in prescreening? While you can include basic technical questions, save in-depth technical assessments for later stages of the interview process.

Common Mistakes:

  1. Asking overly complex or time-consuming questions during prescreening.
  2. Failing to tailor prescreening questions to the specific role and company needs.
  3. Not using the information gathered during prescreening to inform later interview stages.

By crafting effective prescreening interview questions, you can significantly improve your hiring process. This approach helps you identify promising candidates more quickly, saving time and resources while increasing your chances of making great hires.