Pre-Interview Questions and Tips for Answering

How to Complete a Pre-Interview Questionnaire

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What are pre-interview questions and what type of information will an employer be looking for when they ask you to respond to them? Pre-interview questionnaires are used by employers to get further information about a job applicant before a job interview.

If you're asked to complete one, you may need to provide some of the same information that is on your resume and the job application you submitted.

You may also be asked questions related to your background, your skills, your experience, and your availability for work. The questionnaire might also include test questions to measure your ability to do the job.

Employers who use pre-interview questionnaires send them to candidates prior to an interview. The questions may be completed online or via email, depending on the company. You will be instructed on how to complete them when you get the questions.

Why Employers Use Pre-Interview Questionnaires

Pre-interview questionnaires allow employers to gather more information about you than is provided on your resume and cover letter. The goal of the questionnaire is to find out if you are a good fit for both the job and the company, as well as to ask questions that might not be asked during the interview.

It saves the company time because they will have some of the information they need to make a hiring decision in advance, which leaves more time for other questions during the actual job interview.

Tips for Answering Pre-Interview Questions

Although you will likely already have an interview lined up when you receive the questionnaire, you still need to take the pre-interview seriously. Occasionally, employers will cancel an interview if your responses indicate you're not a match for the job. It's important to take your time and carefully respond to each question on the list, considering the requirements listed in the job posting as you answer.

Most questionnaires are designed to take the candidate about half an hour to fill out. Thoroughly answer each question without providing too much detail, just as you would in an actual in-person or phone interview. If the questionnaire includes space in which to answer each question, don't exceed the space given. Keep your answers concise but complete.

Examples of Pre-Interview Questions

Below are several categories of question types that you are likely to find on a pre-interview questionnaire.

General Questions

Although most pre-interview questions relate to information that is not on your resume or cover letter, some questionnaires ask you to provide basic information including contact details, previous employment, and educational background.

This is often a way for employers to confirm that you are who you say you are. Make sure to answer these questions accurately; the information you provide here should reflect what you said in your resume and job application.

Recruiting-Related Questions

Rather than asking these questions during the actual interview, employers often ask more detailed, recruiting-related questions during the pre-interview. Below are some examples of these questions:

  • Where did you see our posting?
  • Would you be willing to participate in a telephone interview?
  • What is the minimum starting yearly salary that you will accept for this position?
  • Is there anyone that you would like to meet or talk to during your visit for an interview?
  • What decision criteria will you use to decide whether you will accept this job offer, if it is offered to you?
  • What other companies have you applied to recently?
  • May I contact the references you listed on your job application?
  • What is your availability? When could you begin work if you were hired?
  • What other companies have you applied to recently?

Questions About Strengths and Weaknesses

An employer will likely ask you about your strengths and weaknesses during the actual interview. However, pre-interview questionnaires often also contain questions about your strengths and weaknesses just in case these questions are skipped over during the interview.

Here are typical questions regarding strengths and weaknesses:

  • What are your key strengths?
  • What are some of your weaknesses?
  • What job responsibilities do you excel at?
  • What knowledge areas and technical skills are your strongest?
  • What team and leadership skills are your strongest?
  • Do you have any additional skills or experiences that you did not include in your resume that we should know about?
  • Can you provide us with a sample or demonstration of your best work?

Motivation and Frustration Pre-Interview Questions

Employers want to know whether or not you will fit in with their company's culture and managerial style. They also want to know what motivates you to work your best - do you have long-term goals, and are they appropriate for the position to which you are applying? Below are a sample of questions you may be asked about motivation and frustration in the workplace.

  • What are the key motivators that encourage you to perform at your best?
  • What makes a job fun?
  • What types of management style frustrate you the most? What types of management style help to motivate you?
  • Why specifically did you quit your last job?
  • Describe a time when you were asked to work overtime without compensation. How did you manage the situation?
  • Where do you expect to be in two years? Five years?
  • Are you interested in further professional development?
  • How does this position fit in with your long-term goals?

Test Questions

There may be test questions on the pre-interview questionnaire. For example, if you are applying for a writing or editing position you may be asked to take an editing test. If you're applying for a social media job, you may be asked to explain how to create a Facebook page or a Twitter profile. For applicants applying for programmer jobs, you may be asked about the programs you know and the certifications you hold.

The types of questions you will be asked, if any, will be related to the type of position the company is hiring for. Here's more information on pre-employment tests.

Check Your Responses

Before you send back or submit your questionnaire be sure to proofread your responses to make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors. Also be sure the information you submitted matches your resume and job application. Discrepancies will be a red flag for an employer and could cost you the interview.

Be sure to complete your questionnaire as soon as possible. Candidates who return the questionnaire promptly will be at an advantage if interviews haven't yet been scheduled.

Information About the Interview

In addition to asking questions, employers often include information that will be necessary for the upcoming interview in the questionnaire. This information may include details on what to wear to the interview, directions to the office, and materials you will need to bring.