How to Pre-Interview Job Candidates

Here’s a dare: choose your next hire based only on resumes and application materials alone. No preliminary questionnaires, pre-interview phone calls, or face-to-face meetings at all.

What do you think? Would you take the dare or pass?

While you can learn a lot from resumes, there’s plenty more to discover about job candidates beyond paper and pixels.

The difference between prescreening and preinterviewing

Two of the ways that HR and hiring managers get more complete pictures of job candidates is via prescreening and pre-interviewing. But what are the differences between these two important steps in the hiring workflow? And how can you move through them as efficiently and effectively as possible as you continue to hunt for the right match?

Prescreening begins as soon as a candidate’s application materials land in your applicant tracking system (ATS).

  • Some companies set up a scoring system using their ATS to rank resumes, and begin sorting candidates into Yes, No and Maybe groups.
  • Scoring systems can use information from the job posting to match a position’s most critical qualifications.

As the hiring workflow continues, those leading the prescreening process—whether it be HR, the hiring manager, or a collaborative effort—will typically begin scrutinizing each Yes candidate’s application materials.

Why? Because this level of early vetting is a key step in clarifying their understanding of what each candidate may or may not bring to the opening, the department, and the company.

Every reviewer wants to wind up with as solid a group of Yes candidates as possible. But what happens if your Yes group includes more candidates than you have time to interview?

Remember, we’re in a hiring reality where job seekers can apply for jobs with just a few clicks on their computers, or taps on their phones.

And today’s job seekers are searching for perks, new challenges, salary bumps and plenty more:

  • Many receive alerts from job sites when an opening matches their criteria.
  • Some candidates follow companies on social media in an effort to engage, interact, and crack the code of what it means to work there.
  • Their resumes and supporting material are ready to go at a moment’s notice!

Whether your job opening attracts a few dozen or a few hundred candidates, having a pre-interview game plan can help narrow the top interview candidates.

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The importance of pre-interviewing your top job candidates

The answers you receive during your pre-interview phase can help you draw a more complete picture of your Yes candidates, especially if you’re stuck getting down to a must-interview list.

Before you invite someone in for an interview, the pre-interview helps you:

  • Gain a better understanding of their skills, experience and motivation.
  • Learn more about their career goals, and see how their perceived trajectory lines up with what your business needs are right now and going forward.
  • Assess their skills, and get an idea of what they’ll bring to the table on Day 1.
  • Look ahead, and project where they might stand on Day 366.

Your applicant tracking system can help you get the most out of your pre-interview phase.

Here are six ways that an applicant tracking system such as myStaffingPro can support your pre-interview process:

  1. You can generate branded pre-interview questionnaires, and use the answers you receive to learn more about each candidate’s professional experience, and understanding of your industry.
  2. You can score their answers, organize them in a central hub, and make them accessible to members of your company who want to have a say in this phase of the hiring process.
  3. With answers stored in a central hub, both hiring managers and HR professionals can enter their feedback, and share their notes with others who are involved in the hiring process.
  4. Saving answers in a central ATS hub also makes it easier to compare answers that different candidates provide.
  5. myStaffingPro’s video cover letter feature lets job candidates send video replies to your questionnaire. This can be exciting for candidates who prefer talking through their answers rather than writing them out.
  6. You can use pre-interview answers to prepare for full interviews, and even refer to certain answers while you’re interviewing a candidate.

It’s important to remember that pre-interview questions aren’t meant to replace a full interview. Still, the answers you receive during the pre-interview phase can help you narrow your top candidate list before you dedicate time and resources to inviting them into the conference room.


There are a number of ways to simplify your pre-interview process, and connect with your Yes candidates before you interview them. myStaffingPro is built with simplification in mind, in order to help you speed up the time-to-hire. Contact a myStaffingPro representative to learn more about how our applicant tracking system can improve your process.

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