Contribution from Alison McMahon,

Co-founder and CEO of twofold, a human resources consultant

Pre-screening allows the employer to determine if the candidate’s qualifications, experience, workplace preferences and salary expectations are in line with the position and organization. Pre-screening is typically done over the phone, saving time and eliminating unlikely candidates.

In a pre-screen, the interviewer would typically ask basic questions that allow them to eliminate candidates who do not fit the job requirements and working conditions, leaving more suited candidates to pursue. Common questions, include:

Interest in the job – ensuring they have a genuine interest in the job.

  • What interested you about the position?
  • What do you know about our company?

Availability – ensuring their availability matches the required schedule for the position.

  • What is your availability like?
  • Our typical working hours are ______. Does this work for your schedule?

Salary – ensuring their salary expectations are in line with what is being offered.

  • What are your salary expectations for this position?
  • What is the minimum salary you’d consider to accept a new position?

Location – ensuring the location is convenient and if they have to commute that it will not cause them hardship.

  • Our business is located ______. Will that work for you?
  • Is this a reasonable commute?

In addition to these questions, you want to review their resume to make sure there aren’t any major gaps in employment. You want to also consider the length of employment in previous positions. Do they have a history of staying with a company or jumping around? Remember, past behaviours can help predict future patterns.


Depending on the position and the amount of information that is desired, additional position-specific questions can be asked. The pre-screen should not be too lengthy; typically, no more than 15 minutes

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