Pre-Interview Methods: Should You Use the Phone, Video Conferencing, or an ATS-Integrated Questionnaire?

Whether you’re a hiring manager or the HR lead, chances are you’re busy. When it comes to setting up pre-interview conversations with your top candidates, the last thing you probably want is to get caught in a back-and-forth game of “let’s try to make my schedule work.”

Your job candidates are busy too.

Some of your top candidates may have dedicated dozens, even hundreds of hours toward their current job search. By now, they may appreciate the chance to answer questions on their time, especially if they’re employed elsewhere, and can’t talk during work hours.

Options for Conducting Pre-Interviews

As we mentioned in an earlier article, there are a few things to consider as you decide what you want to ask your Yes candidates when you pre-interview them. Similarly, a little self-assessment can also help you decide how you want to conduct your pre-interviews. For example:

  1. How many job candidates remain on your Yes list? Are you trying to narrow down your Yes list from 10 to 5? From 5 to 2?
  2. How long has the job been open? Has the position been vacant a month too long? Is your hiring workflow on schedule?
  3. What type of information do you absolutely need to gain during this phase? Do you already have a strong sense of the key differences between your Yes candidates?
  4. What does your schedule look like? How much time can you dedicate to each of your Yes candidates?

Getting to the bottom of these questions can help you decide whether phone calls, videos, or an ATS-integrated questionnaire makes the most sense for your pre-interviews.

Do you know how you want to pre-interview your top candidates?


As you consider how you want to conduct your pre-interviews, keep things such as your own schedule, communication style, and software tools in mind. Our recent Spotlight, “Setting Up Your Pre-Interview Strategy,” explores different steps to help you put your complete pre-interview strategy into place. Read it now.

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Should you pre-interview by phone, video conference or questionnaire?

The case for phone calls

If your Yes list is pretty small—for instance, 5—and you have a fairly open schedule, then maybe it makes sense to block out time and conduct pre-interview phone calls. Or, if you want to get a more personalized feel for a candidate, then phone calls might be the right way to go.

  • A phone call lends itself to candor. You can get a sense of each Yes candidate’s style of communication, comfort with a conversation, and ability to focus. You can also shift the conversation as you hear something from a candidate that you hadn’t seen on the resume that may strengthen or weaken their candidacy.
  • As time allows, a pre-interview phone call can give you a chance to broaden the conversation and invite candidates to ask questions about the company, department, job responsibilities or something else related to the opening.
  • If permissible by law, you can record the conversation in order to review and write up a pre-interview summary later.

One thing to consider:

  • Telephone pre-interviews are typically one-on-one conversations. This means that the way you score your pre-interviews will come down to one person’s impression.
  • To avoid this, you can record the call, where permitted, and make the recording available to others who are involved in the hiring decision.

The case for video conferences

Video pre-interviewing has become a popular way to connect with Yes candidates. Not only does it take the form of a conversation, but it also adds the extra layer of face-to-face connection.

  • Video interviewing might make the most sense when you’re on the hunt for a high-profile hire. You won’t have to worry about travel costs, and can still enjoy the benefit of looking your Yes candidates in the eyes.
  • Most video conferencing software allows you to record the conversation, so you can review and write up summary notes later.

But here are two caveats to keep in mind:

  • Even though video conferencing has become commonplace for companies and job seekers, not everyone can accommodate a video call.
  • And not every hire demands a video pre-interview. If your opening is an entry-level position, then a phone call, or ATS-integrated questionnaire may make more sense.

The case for an ATS-integrated questionnaire

Many companies choose to send out a pre-interview questionnaire that integrates with their applicant tracking system in order to save time and stay organized.

  • You can apply certain controls to keep efficiency in mind, including a set word count, or even character count.
  • You can also set a suggested or hard deadline for when you’ll want their answers by, in order to keep your hiring workflow moving forward.
  • With written answers, you can review them at different points of time as your schedule allows.
  • An ATS-integrated questionnaire can make it easier to streamline the way you take and track notes, and include other reviewers in the hiring process.
  • All members of your review team can contribute to generating your questions, and will have a chance to review each candidate’s unfiltered answers.
  • Works well when you still have a large number of candidates after the initial pre-screening.

Finally, you can also set your questionnaire to allow Yes candidates to save and return to answers when they’re ready, rather than having to answer them in one go. This can provide them with an extra layer of scheduling ease, not to mention peace of mind for those who want to review their answers before they click send.


A pre-interview questionnaire that syncs with myStaffingPro’s applicant tracking system can help you cut down on extra steps, and create new levels of flexibility that benefit you and your Yes candidates. Contact a myStaffingPro representative to learn more about how our applicant tracking system can improve your process. 

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