Choosing the right candidates to interview is more than just matching a resume to a job description; it's about understanding the person behind the CV before you meet them. 

How do you find talent with skills and personality that fit your company culture?

Face-to-face Interview Setting

In this blog, we’ll share some initial screening interview questions we use to learn more about your candidates' skills and personality, as well as what drives them.

What is a Screening Interview?

A screening interview is the first in-person meeting between a hiring manager and a candidate.

This first conversation is about gauging a candidate's skills, understanding their goals, and assessing whether or not their values align with your company's culture. 

But it’s also a chance for candidates to learn about your company! So be sure to share what your employees love about working there too.

But ultimately, every hiring manager is trying to figure out whether someone should go to the next step of the interview process.

A good screening interview takes high-quality candidates to the next stage of the screening process, while a poor screening interview could waste the time of your leadership teams.

How long should a screening interview last?

Screening interviews usually last somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes. They can happen over the phone or via video call.

Why Run Pre-Screening Interviews?

Ask any talent acquisition leader (or even CEO), high-quality pre-screening interview questions are key to developing a great culture and a high-performing business.

Here’s why they matter so much:

  1. Avoid wasting leadership’s time: Pre-screening interviews help you quickly narrow down who's likely to perform, which means you’re not wasting senior leadership’s time on candidates who aren’t a good match for the business.
  2. Early assessment of fit: Pre-screening interviews help you spot red flags early on. They also help you identify high-potential employees who don’t quite fit the brief but deserve to make it to round two.
  3. Making a good impression on candidates: A good pre-screening interview makes the candidate excited to join your business.


Interviewing Screening Questions for HR Folk and Recruiters

Online Interview Setting
Online Interview Setting

HR screening interview questions help HR departments understand their candidates’ mindset, motivations, and compatibility with your organization. 

Here are some of the best screening questions we’ve come across:

“What are you looking for in your next job?”

This question shows your candidates’ professional goals and personal values. By understanding their expectations for advancement, work-life balance, and the type of projects they like working on, you’ll have a good idea of whether they’re a good fit.

“What made you leave your last job?”

By understanding why they changed jobs, you’ll have a glimpse into how they handle difficult situations, their ability to navigate tricky situations, and how best you’ll be able to retain them if they become full-time hires.

“What are your salary expectations?”

This clarifies that the candidate’s expectations match the compensation you offer. It can also lead to discussing other perks and benefits your company provides.

“What environment helps you do your best work?”

This question helps you understand how flexible the candidate is in different situations. Some candidates prefer a regular office setup, while others do better working from home. How does this fit with your own working policies?

“What kind of company culture do you like?”

Do they do well in collaborative, team-oriented tasks, or do they like working independently on specific tasks? Their answer can show how they’ll get along with your team.

“What motivates you to do your job well?”

Understanding your candidates’ drivers helps you determine how well they align with the values of your team and organization.

“Tell me about a work success you're proud of.”

How they talk about their part in success at work tells you about their approach to teamwork, their potential to lead, and how they handle success.

“Tell me about a difficult problem you faced at work. How did you deal with it?”

By explaining how they handle complex topics at work, you’ll have an insight into their ability to tackle challenges in their own role.

Screening Interview Questions to Avoid

Now let’s look at some screening questions you should avoid during your screening interview. Some of these questions are insensitive, others could be considered discriminatory. It’s safest not to ask them at all.

Legally-sensitive questions

  • Questions about age: Avoid questions like, “How old are you?” or “When did you graduate from high school?”
  • Marriage and kids: Questions like “Are you married?” or “Do you plan to have children?”
  • Nationality and ethnicity: Avoid asking, “Where were you born?” or “What is your nationality?” 
  • Religious beliefs: Questions like “What religion do you practice?” or “Do you observe any religious holidays?” are inappropriate.
  • Health and disability: “Do you have any health conditions?” or “Have you had any recent illnesses?” are questions that could violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Non-productive or potentially offensive questions

  • Personal lifestyle: Questions about personal habits, like smoking or drinking, should be avoided.
  • Political views: “Which political party do you support?” is irrelevant to the job performance.
  • Money matters: Asking about personal money issues, like “Do you own your house?” is too personal.

Best practices to remember

  • Focus on the job: Aside from small talk, ensure all the questions used to evaluate a candidate’s performance directly relate to the role they applied for.
  • Be fair and equal: Ask the same questions to all candidates.

Respect different cultures: Be aware of cultural differences and avoid assumptions based on a candidate’s name, appearance, or background.

By understanding and avoiding inappropriate questions, you can conduct more effective, respectful screening interviews. This approach protects the organization from potential legal issues and creates a positive and professional first experience for each candidate.

Should You Run a Screening Interview by Phone or Video Call?

Here are the pros and cons of each.

Phone interviews

For phone screening interview questions, the focus is on the candidate's phone manners and verbal communication.

Phone Interview Setting


  • Simple and easy: Phone interviews are easy to set up and flexible in scheduling, especially when dealing with different time zones.
  • Reliable connection: Phone lines can be more reliable than internet-based video calls.


  • No visual clues: Without seeing the candidate’s language and facial expressions, it can be difficult to understand their communication style.
  • Less personal: Phone interviews are less personal, which could make it more difficult to connect with the candidate.

Video interviews

In the case of video-screening interview questions, the focus tends to be on a combination of verbal communication skills and body language.

Video Interview Setting
Video Interview setting


  • Face-to-face chat: Video calls let you see each other, making the conversation more engaging and personal.
  • Seeing body language: Video calls let you observe how the candidate acts, helping you understand their communication style and professionalism.
  • Record and transcribe: Free tools like Tactiq offer live transcription, which saves notes from each meeting.


  • Depends on technology: Relying on internet connection and technical equipment could lead to issues that disrupt the flow of the interview.

Make Screening Interviews Easy with Tactiq

Tactiq Widget
Tactiq's Widget

If you use video calls for your screening interviews, introducing Tactiq’s auto transcription tool can help you choose the perfect candidate for your organization.

Tactiq captures every detail of your interviews as they happen. Here's how it can transform your screening process:

  1. Comprehensive note-taking: Tactiq accurately transcribes your conversations and ensures you don’t miss any critical information. This transcription is useful when you’re trying to remember details or compare responses across candidates. You can even summarize your meetings with Tactiq’s AI integration.
  2. Focus on the conversation: With Tactiq handling the note-taking, you can focus on having a high-quality discussion with the candidate, rather than splitting your attention between listening and writing notes.
  3. Collaborative decision-making: The transcript summaries produced by Tactiq can be shared easily with your team. This encourages a more comprehensive candidate evaluation, where everyone on the team can share their insights and perspectives.
  4. Time-efficient review process: Tactiq's transcriptions make reviewing and revisiting key interviews easy. You can ask questions about your transcript with AI and get answers immediately.
  5. Integrate with your workflow: Tactiq integrates with various video call platforms like Zoom and Google Meet, so it should fit as part of the way you already work.

By using Tactiq as part of your screening interviews, you capture each conversation to review later and make a more informed hiring decision.

You can download Tactiq’s AI tool here. 10 transcripts a month are completely free.

Improving Your Recruitment Process with the Right Questions

Detailed screening interview questions help you find suitable candidates who match your company's culture and goals.

Remember, an excellent screening interview highlights the person behind the resume. They are an opportunity to understand and evaluate team members and help sell your own company too.

More Resources

If you want to learn how to use ChatGPT for job interviews, check out our guide here: ChatGPT for Job Interviews: Unlocking Career Success

If you want to learn more about ChatGPT prompt templates for meetings, see this guide: ChatGPT Prompts Template for Meeting: The Ultimate Guide

You can also check out the 3 Best Tools For Remote Job Interviews You'll Want to Try.

You can learn how to master job interviews by watching our video tutorial here: Mastering Job Interviews with ChatGPT's Help

Want the convenience of AI summaries?

Try Tactiq for your upcoming meeting.

Want the convenience of AI summaries?

Try Tactiq for your upcoming meeting.

Bringing AI into your meetings has never been so easy.

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