Thursday, September 29th, 2022

How Do I Conduct A Screening Interview?


I seem to be getting great people to interviews and they seem to be very qualified and impressive and I like them right away…..but when they join the company they are not they same….I must have missed something.  One of my lessons when managing my sales force hit home many times, when I only hired experience or on superficial impressions- I learned that two other key items came with the new hire; chemistry and behavior!

I lot of my clients have a selection process that they go through- they spend a lot of time initially in their first interview and then less time in future interviews.  There was a study conducted by a major university about flawed interviewing processes- in 68% of the interviews, the interviewer had made a decision on hiring or not hiring the interviewee in the first four minutes of the interview!!  We know that when we step back and think about it, when this happens, the selection process is superficial and purely subjective.  However, don’t beat yourself up if has happened to you.  You probably have had very little formal training on interviewing and you as an owner are very passionate about your organization and can not wait to tell your story.  So, as soon as you get a signal that you like this person, you begin talking.  In fact you may spend 80% or more of the interview talking rather than listening.  It should be reversed with 80% of your time listening.

If the above seems to describe what you have experienced or what your manager’s experience when interviewing potential hires, you are potentially hiring the wrong people and even worse, you maybe ruling out talented people too quickly.  There is a need to make your interviewing process provide you with objective information so you may determine if the person being interviewed matches or fits your position requirements.

I am going to give you a screening interview with sequenced questions that will allow you to determine if the person being interviewed has skills, behaviors and knowledge that are able to be applied in your job opportunity.  This is based on the assumption that you understand the behaviors, skills and knowledge that are currently needed for your position.  The questions that I will suggest go from easy, to difficult to tough in sequence.  They are designed to provide the following:

  • Specific job related information
  • Based on real time job information
  • Transferrable skills, knowledge and behaviors
  • Thread of success that can be used in your position
  • A thirty minute to forty five minute interview that could be conducted at anytime    


Here is the sequence of questions:

Easy- warm up questions:

  • Tell me about your current and past positions
  • What are some of positions or situations you really enjoyed?
  • Why?
  • What are some of the situations you did not enjoy?
  • Why?


I know you are thinking that you do this now as they are pretty basic questions found in all interviews.  That is what makes it easy for the person being interviewed too- more comfortable in answering your questions and lowers their defenses.  Although the info by itself is standard- when combined with the next few questions it becomes very meaningful and will give you information as to how to powerfully and quickly sell your opportunity if appropriate at the end of the interview.

Job related or more difficult questions:

  • Tell me about some of your achievements that you are proud of: don’t be modest


Difficult questions follow each shared achievement:

  • Tell me how you contributed to this achievement- what did you do in achieving…?

Here you are looking for specific actions that they undertook

Decide if the demonstrated skills, knowledge and behavior are a good fit for your position.  If the person fits or shows a thread of success you may offer a brief description and sell of your opportunity and ask if the would like to explore this opportunity further together as mutual candidates.  Notice, you are not offering a position, you are only deciding to invest further time in the selection process with this person.

Summary:  If you experiment with these questions you will get specific relevant information about the candidate and their key behaviors, skills and knowledge.  It is what they have done and how they did it that is meaningful information.  This will make their resume relevant and get to the heart of who they really are and their potential fit.  There are a lot of other key elements in a successful selection process or discipline that will be shared in future articles.  Now you know how to get relevant information from a screening interview and apply it- you are better than most interviewers.

For a free thirty minute discussion and evaluation of your current selection process please email: and request “Selection System Discussion”.

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