What are the best screening questions you should be asking everyday when hiring?

Posted by Mark Bohdanyk on May 17, 2021

Last week, we discussed tackling the number one concern in recruiting and hiring  here, so this week we are taking a deeper dive with screening questions.  Which ones should you be asking everyday?  Which ones should you avoid?

First, let's focus on the ones to avoid:  Are you 18?  Do you live in the US?  How long have you worked in industry x?  Many recruiters use questions like these, which measure duration and not talent.  That's not to say you shouldn't ask for information like Are you eligible to work in the US? But when crafting our most important screening questions; this is where our best practices piece on profiling your job comes into play.  

Can you articulate in question form the unique things that need to get done on this job?  Here are some examples of great profiling questions:

For a Sr. Software Engineer for Wireless Technology position, one of the first questions asked is quantifiably used to determine experience (values in parenthesis at the end):
My level of experience with wireless networking (Cell phones, PDA, embedded processors, etc.) is:
N/A- I would be new to this area (KO)

I have utilized wireless networked equipment and/or software in my previous work. (0%)
I have designed or developed wireless networking equipment or software in my previous work as a part of the Team (50%)
I have worked as a Design Lead, Team Lead, Manager or Supervisor of a wireless network design or network software design project. (100%)
I have worked as a Team Lead, Design Lead or Manager/Supervisor of a wireless network design or network software design in the wireless industry. (FWD)
So in these questions, we've determined that anyone who is new to this area is a knockout (won't be considered for this position), but anyone who has worked as a Team Lead, Design Lead or Manager/Supervisor will automatically pass this level of screening because the Hiring Manager has said this is something they are looking for.  Anyone else falls into a percentage category based on their previous experience.  The recruiter that wrote these questions profiled the job with the hiring manager to determine what they truly wanted and needed in the position, and then had the questions approved so that as they hired more of these employees in the future, these questions would be able to be used for this position consistently.  
Here is another example of an international marketing communications director position's initial screening questions:
My level of familiarity with global marketing and doing business with other countries such as Taiwan, China, and the UK is:
N/A - I would be new to global marketing (KO)
I have worked with others doing global marketing, but not traveled myself or met representatives from other countries (0%)
I have worked with representatives from other countries as they visited the USA (25%)
I have traveled to several countries and successfully done business with technology providers and other representatives there (75%)
I have traveled extensively to many countries and successfully done business with them. Plus, I am familiar with their customs of doing business and can negotiate my way through common business roadblocks (100%)
In this example, when the recruiter was profiling the job with the hiring manager, the most important thing that he learned was that being familiar with customs in other countries and navigating issues within those customs was the most important thing to the hiring manager, because it had cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars in missed opportunities due to cultural flubs in the past.  So here is a simple screening question that lets the recruiter know instantaneously whether this person is the right fit for the job.
For one company, it's all about culture fit.  They are ping pong fanatics.  They are looking for coders, but for their culture fit they want someone competitive on the table, so the recruiter built this question when profiling the job:
We are an office that loves competitive ping pong/table tennis.  My experience level with it is:
N/A - Ping Pong? Is that the video game with two blocks on the left and right fighting over a dot bouncing back and forth? (0%)
I have played a round or two. (10%)
I'm not generally a competitive player, but I'm up for playing (25%)
My serve will leave you reeling, and I hope you're all prepared to be pwned. (75%)
I have competed in inter-office tournaments and/or been a part of a competitive table tennis team (100%)
Now in this specific example, does that mean if the applicant doesn't play table tennis, they are not going to get the job? No.  But it can be a discussion point when you have two equally qualified candidates and one is a clearer culture fit.  When you use software to create a meaningful set of screening questions, you can create a matrix of qualifying questions/scores to help your recruiters ONLY work with qualified candidates that meet the needs, experience and culture fit of the company.
Next week, we will discuss what the top recruiters due once they have a pool of promising, qualified candidates.

Who are we?  HireMojo with RecruiterShare is a diverse team of individuals with over 65 years of combined hiring experience.  We use our knowledge and know-how to help companies hire faster, easier and less expensively, while utilizing AI and software learning to reduce the amount of time it takes on all sides of the hiring equation.  We design tools to help allow you to concentrate on the human parts of hiring – interviewing, negotiating and making the hire.  Learn more about HireMojo here.  We also design tools to help you expand your team by matching you with recruiters willing to administrate your entire hiring process at a fraction of traditional agencies.  Learn more about RecruiterShare here.

Brian Vogel of sensibleHR says:
Like its parent HireMojo, RecruiterShare, is changing the landscape of recruiting. I have referred their services repeatedly to sensibleHR's clients and the level of high-touch service along with the speedy delivery of a premier candidate pool has been nothing short of jaw-dropping. Sure the initial mind-boggling low cost may be the initial hook, but it is the service from the stable of recruiters and quality candidates that drive the loyalty and high satisfaction.

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