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Pre-Screening Interview Questions: [With Sample Answers]

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Applying for a job requires several hurdles, such as being asked to do an interview or two.

In this case, it’s not the starting interview.

There’s a pre-screening for every candidate, which can be unfamiliar to you.

What’s good is that we’re going to discuss this process and what pre-screening interview questions you could encounter, along with how you can answer them.

Below, you’ll find the top ten questions you need to know about.

10 Common Pre-Screening Interview Questions

These questions can vary from one company to the next.

These queries will generally have the same thought behind them, and relatively the same answer the interviewers are looking for.

Expect these questions below:

  1. Why are you looking for a new job?
  2. Why do you want to work in our company?
  3. How are you the ideal candidate for this role?
  4. What are your biggest achievements, and why?
  5. Tell me about your previous experiences in the workplace
  6. What past work experience stressed you out, and how did you cope?
  7. What motivates you in your work environment and the job itself?
  8. Where do you see yourself in the future?
  9. What are your expectations in terms of salary?
  10. How soon can you start a new job?

There are still other questions that an interviewer can ask you, in this interview or in the final one.

We have another list of final interview questions and final-round interview questions to help you overcome that last hurdle as well.

What Should I Say in a Pre-Screening Interview?

Hiring managers will ask you questions about your skills and past experiences.

They’re becoming better at interviewing, after all.

Stick with answers that reflect what you can bring to the table, without compromising the job description or selling yourself short.

What Skills Are Pre-Screening Interviewers Looking For in a Candidate?

Your abilities will be your assets in getting the job you want.

The following skills are what hiring managers will look for:

  • Teamwork: Even if an employee is doing a single job, he or she is contributing to the workforce through his time and teamwork.
  • Good Communication: To foster good business relations inside and outside the company, communication is key.
  • Commitment: Companies invest their time in recruiting, hiring, and training. They would want dedicated individuals.
  • High EQ: Having a high emotional quotient aids in a better working environment for everyone.
  • Drive/Passion: The point of passion is to show recruiters that you want to be in the company and do a good job.

What Traits Are Pre-Screening Interviewers Looking To Avoid in a Candidate?

However, there are some skills recruiters find not acceptable in the workplace.

The main three traits are as follows:

  • Unsociability: Recruiters see people with poor social skills as not a good fit for a company, especially in an office setting.
  • Lacking Enthusiasm: Good potential candidates should be eager to get a job that they say they want in the first place.
  • Being Egotistical: Some people that think too much of themselves in an inflated way could end up jeopardizing their chances.

Sample Pre-Screening Interviews Questions and Answers

Now that you know the common pre-screening questions, we can read through them all and discuss how to answer them.

Let’s start with the reasons why hiring managers ask these questions, as well as the dos and don’ts of your chosen responses.

1. Why Are You Looking for a New Job?

Why This Question Is Asked

With this question, a hiring manager is trying to see if you’re okay with discussing difficult topics and if you’re planning to stay at the company.

Your answers can show if you’re a team player based on why you left.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

A lot of people change occupations all the time, and it’s best to be straightforward.

Make your answer precise. You can make your reason for leaving connected to your accomplishments and lack of resources.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Sometimes, the reason for an employee leaving is unpleasant.

That doesn’t mean you should badmouth your previous employers.

This response shows the type of person you are.

Focus more on how your values didn’t align.

Don’t make it too personal.

Example Answer

“My previous boss gave me such a valuable push. But now, I want to venture out more and grow as an employee. I feel like this new position will benefit me as well as benefit the company.”

2. Why Do You Want to Work in This Company in Particular?

Why This Question Is Asked

This question is another way an employer can assess an applicant if he or she is a good fit for the company.

Matching the right candidate for the right job is the top priority of the interviewer and hiring team.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Do some research about the role you’re applying for and the company you’re getting into.

The answer you give the interviewer should reflect your research.

You should show how passionate you are, and how you align with their belief systems.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Don’t be disingenuous about your answer.

An experienced interviewer can already tell if you’re in it for the perks or the salary.

You should avoid answers about how this job is a stepping stone to something better for you.

Example Answer

“I’ve been following your organization ever since I read about the work you do in this amazing article.After perusing your website, I saw that your mission statement lined up with mine. I applied right after I saw your job ad.”

3. How Are You the Ideal Candidate for This Role?

Why This Question Is Asked

The interviewer is checking if you know the qualifications for the job you are applying for through this question.

Your future employers aren’t the only ones checking if you’re the best.

You need to decide too.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

While looking through the job ad, you can start seeing how this job will work.

Connect each point to a skill you already possess.

List them down.

Include skills that are yours that can help while on the job.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Comparing yourself to others in the current job pool might not be the best answer.

You can come off as ignorant, insulting good workers.

The question is about you comparing yourself, but not towards others.

Don’t be arrogant or insensitive.

Example Answer

“My time as a waitress has given me a lot of insight into this role. My manager encouraged us to push our specials. I ended up being their top seller for a year. This practice will help here too.”

4. What Are Your Biggest Achievements and Why?

Why This Question Is Asked

This demonstrates to a hiring manager what are the accomplishments of a promising candidate.

He or she already has this idea of what an applicant should’ve done to get this position.

Here’s your chance to showcase your valuable work ethic.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

There’s a fine line between pride and arrogance.

You don’t need to be too humble either.

Be relevant to the question without inflating your ego.

Tell your story, connect it to the position, and choose something that works.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

If the story you’re telling is about you fixing a problem, don’t put the blame on another person.

At the same time, excuses shouldn’t be in the mix either.

Both tactics won’t give the hiring team the best impression of you.

Example Answer

“When I assisted my manager during a book launch, I looked after all aspects of the book fair. Through my troubleshooting, management booked three additional book fairs for the rest of the year. I was made the main supervisor for all three.”

5. Tell Me About Your Previous Experiences in the Workplace

Why This Question Is Asked

Recruiters need to have a full grasp of an applicant’s relevant work experiences and background.

They need to be related to the position. You will be given a set of responsibilities, and they want to make sure you can deliver.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Concentrate on your background and work experience that go with the duties of the job.

How well you describe your responsibilities will give the hiring manager a better picture of your capabilities. Prepare other answers too, along with evidence.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Practicing your answer is always a good idea, but don’t overdo it.

Your answers should sound natural. Limit sounding robotic and rehearsed.

Don’t lie either. Tell the truth.

Example Answer

“Your job ad stated you need a well-experienced call center agent. I worked at a fast-paced start-up for four years, cold-calling and receiving queries in a number of departments. In every one, I immersed myself until I became the project manager.”

6. What Past Work Experiences Stressed You Out and How Did You Cope?

Why This Question Is Asked

Everyone gets stressed, and a hiring manager knows this.

This question in particular is asked when the job itself is being done in highly-stressful conditions like hospitals.

The interviewer is gauging whether you’re capable of managing your stress.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

The recruiter is asking for a past work experience that stressed you out, so shell out a bunch of examples beforehand and choose one.

This experience should be about times you handled the stress without neglecting your duties.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

The rule of thumb is to not mention an instance of stress that was instigated by you.

Don’t appear as the problem. Managers tend to avoid hiring stressful people in the workplace.

Explain how you dealt with the stressful situation instead.

Example Answer

“Juggling multiple projects at once was intimidating, especially since I started in that position. But, I’m pretty good at multitasking and compartmentalization. I broke down projects into segments with deadlines. I’ve always been punctual since.”

7. What Motivates You in Your Work Environment and the Job Itself?

Why This Question Is Asked

This question shows future employers the type of candidate you can be.

It shows how capable you are and what expectations you have for the job you’re applying for.

This gives managers insight into the work environment they should have.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Do a bit of self-reflection on your part.

Reminisce about the times in your previous jobs when you felt elated and accomplished.

You can fish out specific moments that motivate you to do a good job, from meetings to coworkers.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Don’t be selfish.

The best part of your week shouldn’t be about finally getting your paycheck after a long day of toil at your desk.

Say a clear response concerning your responsibilities.

Find interesting and positive tidbits about the work.

Example Answer

“Datasheets, numbers, in particular, are my specialties. Looking through and checking research-based data was my bread and butter. All data needed to be accurate to facilitate real-world policies. I’m proud to contribute my skills to something worthwhile.”

8. Where Do You See Yourself in the Future?

Why This Question Is Asked

Any employer wants to see what type of personal development each candidate would like to have.

Here, interviewers are looking to see if you can see yourself in the company in the long run.

These could be promising signs the interview went well.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

As preparation, outline your possible career path

Your future goals can be different from the job.

Hence, use an outline to figure out how this role connects to your future goals.

Mention your interest in the job and your plan.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Don’t stray away from your main trajectory.

It can be a stretch when looking for connections between your future goals and the available position.

If you can’t find a clear path, mastery of a job works as well.

Example Answer

“Being a teacher is something that gets me up in the morning. It’s what I always wanted. In the future, I want to be more useful. I’ll start out as an English teacher, and work my way up as principal.”

9. What Are Your Expectations in Terms of a Salary?

Why This Question Is Asked

The salary range could’ve been stated in the job posting, but it could be reiterated in the interview.

This way, the interviewer can see if the expectations of the candidate will meet with the employer’s allotted compensation for the job.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Do your research about what a typical worker in your role makes in the area.

It’ll depend on your region.

Level of expertise plays a part in determining your salary range as well.

Be reasonable with the number you give.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Don’t ask outright. Wait for the interviewer to ask.

You wouldn’t want to come off as greedy during the pre-screening.

Don’t give an outrageously high number either.

When given a low sum, be kind and ask if you can negotiate.

Example Answer

“I have experience with this role due to my degree in Psychology and four years in the industry. I have an idea about the range, which is around $X to $Y. I’m always up for negotiation, though. We can discuss what’s fair.”

10. How Soon Can You Start a New Job?

Why This Question Is Asked

Since the company posted a job ad, they need to fill that position as soon as possible.

Future employers need to know how early a potential candidate can start working, if ever.

The earlier you can start working, the better.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

If you’re available, tell the interviewer when’s the closest time you can start.

While still employed, check your job’s policies on notices and leaves.

Use up your remaining vacation days for training, if possible.

Wait for your notice to finish.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

If you’re applying for jobs while still working in your current role, don’t be tempted to say you can start right away.

Don’t give them a late date too, in case you need time for yourself.

Ask when’s the starting date instead.

Example Answer

“My previous employment requires at least two weeks’ notice. I can begin working after that. I also looked through my leftover vacation days. I can use them up next week to train by then. That way, I’ll start right away.”

Other Common Interview Questions You Could Be Asked

A hiring team won’t limit themselves to only ten questions.

Even during a short interview like a pre-screening, they can add more to get to know a candidate better.

With that being said, here are five additional questions you can practice for, in case you need them.

1. What Are You Passionate About?

Why This Question Is Asked

The hiring staff is trying to get as much information about a likely candidate as possible.

This includes other activities you do outside of your job.

It shows the interviewer what you can bring as a well-rounded individual at work.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Think about a passion you are still doing.

You should be knowledgeable of this hobby because an interviewer could give you follow-up questions.

It should be a genuine passion of yours.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

For starters, tell the truth. It could get awkward when your boss arranges a ski trip when you don’t even know how to ski.

Make sure to share something that won’t interfere with work hours.

Put forward a work-friendly hobby.

Example Answer

“Food is a passion of mine. I had trouble growing up when my family had barely anything to eat. Nowadays, I cook at a local soup kitchen on weekends. I can even think about solutions to current problems while cooking.”

2. Describe Yourself

Why This Question Is Asked

A recruiter asks this question to see if you’re capable of doing the job they want you to fill.

Your qualities say a lot, including how you can succeed in any given role.

These qualities should go with your skillset as well.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

This is your chance to tell your interviewer about the qualities that can help you do a good job at the company.

Do some research about that role’s job description too.

You can see then which of your skills would work best.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

It’s good to give concrete examples, but not all of them at once.

Don’t overwhelm the hiring manager.

You can stretch the truth once you do, which you shouldn’t.

Stick to one first.

Be real about your skills, in a positive manner.

Example Answer

“I thrive when working with a wide range of people. You’d want me in the room when starting a new project. I believe that camaraderie is important when bridging new connections. We’ll for sure get the work done as a team.”

3. Why Do You Want This Job?

Why This Question Is Asked

This can be a follow-up to how you can be a good fit for the role.

Interviewers will look for your motivations, values, and goals.

They want these characteristics to align with the job for you to be a contender.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

After researching the role and the company, look for attributes that won’t clash with the company’s vision and mission.

This includes how you can benefit them.

Your answer should be to the point while staying conversational and polite.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid straying from the topic.

Answer what the hiring team is asking you without reciting everything on your resume.

Don’t focus on yourself or mention monetary gains, since the topic should be about how you can do the job better for them.

Example Answer

“I’ve been working in an HR team for three years. I worked while studying, using my degree to aid in my department. I assisted them in going paperless for three months. My experience will help with your company’s rising efficiency rates.”

4. What Is Your Greatest Strength?

Why This Question Is Asked

For jobs requiring the individual to be in a team setting, hiring managers want to point out if you can work beyond yourself.

The needs of the company come first. You’re the cell in the body of the organization.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Shine a light on your most useful trait for the job.

These key traits should be your greatest hits, but only those you can use while on the job.

You can either share one strength or a bunch of them.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Don’t say a list if the hiring team only asked for one trait.

It’s good to have a concise answer.

At the same time, you shouldn’t shy away from how important your strength is.

Be proud of who you are.

Example Answervery

“Noticing small changes in data is my greatest strength. I can even do it with facial expressions too. I can look through the paperwork and tell you what needs to be edited, and even spot if meetings will go well.”

5. What Is Your Greatest Weakness?

Why This Question Is Asked

Of course, an employer wants to know if you can do the job.

We’re still human.

In the face of mistakes, he or she also wants to see if you can learn from them and use them for the better.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Try to spin that negative trait into a positive one.

Pick a shortcoming in a work setting that you ended up resolving by yourself.

If you can, say a skill you improved on that ended up being beneficial then.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

You shouldn’t say that you’re perfect.

Everyone can make mistakes, after all.

But, don’t fixate too much on every mistake.

The more you do, the interviewer could end up thinking that you’re not qualified for the role.

Example Answer

“I wasn’t that good or fast at typing. I needed to learn fast since I was handling confidential information. It took me a while, and I asked for extensions. But after a while, I can type with my eyes closed.”

Additional Tips for Pre-Screening Interviews

Knowing the questions are important, but also how you present yourself.

Here are the additional tips you can work on before your pre-screening interview.

Don’t forget to send a follow-up email after the interview.

How Do You Prepare for a Pre-Screening Interview?

We’ve tackled researching the company and the job description.

Now, the best way you can prepare for a pre-screening interview is to practice answering the questions.

It’ll help with the jitters.

Plus, you’ll sound more natural after a few tries.

What Should You Wear to a Pre-Screening Interview?

Dress smart. Denim pants and a t-shirt won’t do.

Go with slacks, a good button-down or blouse, leather shoes, and a smart coat.

Sweaters and dresses are acceptable too.

How Should You Introduce Yourself in a Pre-Screening Interview?

Here’s how to introduce yourself.

Once you already know about the company’s background, you can write a short greeting to introduce who you are to the hiring team.

Be conscious about your body language and smile.

Always keep eye contact.

What Questions Should You Ask at the End of a Pre-Screening Interview?

After the interview, ask your interviewer questions too.

The ones stated below could give you an idea of what to ask:

1.  Am I applying for a new or an old role in the company?

This question is a great way for you to figure out what kind of role you will have here.

If it’s an established position, then you could have a chance to excel.

If it’s new, there could be a high turnover rate.

2.  Who are going to be the people I’ll collaborate with on the job?

It’s best to know who you’ll be working with, and who will be your superiors if you get the job.

Navigating the ins and outs of a company can be less stressful if you know who to ask.

3.  What track/paths do you see for the people in this particular position?

Chances of advancement will always be on a candidate’s mind.

Upward mobility is a sure sign of potential growth for employees.

Why not get a few tips while you’re there? If you settle in with this question, make sure to take notes.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can still have other questions regarding what’s a pre-screening interview and how it differs from the main job interview.

We’ve answered them already for you through the questions below:

What is the Purpose of a Pre-Screening Interview?

A pre-screening interview is a short introduction an employer gets of a possible candidate.

It’s a rather short interview, around 15–30 minutes.

It can even be done through a call or online.

Is Pre-Screening the Same as an Interview?

A pre-screening interview is a type of short interview, but it’s not the actual interview.

This happens before the more-extensive job interview, where it’s used to rule out unqualified applicants from the get-go.

The hiring staff will then focus on the candidates that already meet their criteria.

Wrapping Up

Trying to answer pre-screening interview questions can be confusing at times.

That said, you can check the questions provided above and practice.

They’re generally alike between different organizations.

Make sure to find the answer that best suits you and your capabilities as a good potential employee.

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