HR Editorial

Putting Screening Questions to work for you

February 28, 2022
6 Minute Read

Originally posted on HR Dive.

According to Zety, it takes a candidate 100-200 applications to get a job offer. This volume translates to an astounding 11 hours a week for 5 months for an average job search.

All of this can easily lead to job application fatigue or burnout which is a mixture of physical and emotional exhaustion. There are many strategies used these days to combat this exhaustion. One that is becoming increasingly popular is the usage of automated application bots. Tech savvy candidates are building bots to auto apply to jobs based on a keyword or combination of keywords. Although time saving for candidates, the usage of these bots leads to an increase in job applications that the candidate may or may not have interest in or be qualified for. This also leads to an influx in applications to filter for recruiters adding more to their already overflowing workload.

Queue the implementation of screening questions. Although screening questions are not new, taking a fresh look to ensure the right setup will save your team valuable time. Finding the right mix of question types, when and how to utilize them requires a well thought out process.

Screening question types

There are two main types of screening questions: eligibility and performance related questions. Any good screening questionnaire contains the right mix of both types.

Eligibility questions tackle the hard requirements of the open position like work eligibility, location, travel requirements and the candidates willingness to complete the process.


  • Employment status: Is the applicant legally authorized to work in the required environment?
  • Start date: Can the applicant start the position in an acceptable time frame?
  • Compensation: Is the applicant willing to accept the posted compensation range for this position?

Performance questions relate to the applicant’s ability to perform the job. These types of questions center around education, certifications, specific skills and work experience.


  • Education: Does the applicant have the minimum requirements?
  • Certifications: Does the applicant have the required certifications?
  • Experience: Does the applicant have the experience needed?

With those definitions top of mind, the next step is to think through how to design a process to utilize them (right questions, right medium, right time).

When to use them

Finding the right time to insert screening questions is pretty straightforward, albeit important. Since the purpose of screening questions is to weed out unqualified or uninterested candidates, this needs to be as early in the hiring process as possible.

The ideal option is to include these questions as part of the application itself. Depending upon what job board or posting site is being utilized, one must consider the length of time an applicant spends filling out an application. Gather as much information as needed but don’t make candidates input their entire life history.

If your job board doesn’t allow custom screening questions then adding them as “Step 1A” is the next best thing. This way candidates are still getting them as early as possible in the process allowing them to filter themselves out so they won’t be left in limbo awaiting the next steps.

How to deliver them

Digitally. In today’s fast paced environment, applicants require flexibility to fill them out via any device and digital delivery is the key. Don’t spend time scheduling interviews at this stage but rather let the screening questions work for you.

A key item to remember is that these screening questions are not interview questions, those come later so picking the right ones is a crucial part of the process to ensure a good experience for the candidate and efficiency gains for the recruiter.

What questions to use

This largely depends on the position but there are some general guidelines that can be followed. Eligibility questions are a must — include them while also condensing them down to as few as possible, only the black and white requirements. Leave anything that is gray out at this point.

Example of full stack developer screening form

Rely on a decision engine and eliminate bias

Another tip to maximize value from screening questions, is to build them conditionally utilizing conditional branching. Utilizing a decision engine with conditional paths also removes bias from the equation completely. Regardless of age, gender, etc. the decision engine is pushing candidates down a path based solely on the answers they provide.

As an example, when setting up your questionnaire, start with the eligibility first and as each answer ‘passes’ then display the next question, otherwise allow the candidate to submit the form at that point in time. A rejection email should be sent automatically if the candidate submitted a ‘non-pass’ answer(s), so that they are not spending time guessing and awaiting next steps.

Answering ‘Yes’ conditionally displays the follow-up question

Answering ‘No’ moves the candidate to the next question

Sit back and automate it

Now is the best part, all of this can and should be automated. Automate the sending of screening questions upon application (if they aren’t included in the application itself), then automate the sending of a rejection email along with updating the candidates status to ‘rejected’ when the criteria is not met.

Next, automate the scheduling of interviews by utilizing a self scheduling tool for the candidate. Subsequently, the self-scheduling automation can be repeated if the candidate passes the criteria of the previous interview, otherwise a rejection notification if they don’t. Finally, keep the candidate, recruiter and other relevant parties informed all along the way so no one is stuck wondering how the process is going.

Example of a screening workflow

Better candidate experience

By implementing a screening process, you are building a better experience for candidates and your recruiters. This process removes a lot of the guesswork and what ifs and allows the candidates to see in clear terms what the requirements are, attest to having or not having them and keeps them updated throughout. By filtering out unqualified or uninterested candidates early and often, you are creating a better overall candidate experience even for those that are rejected. No candidate enjoys sitting in limbo for days and weeks at a time. Finally, just because the candidate isn’t qualified now doesn’t mean they won’t be a huge asset to your company a bit farther down the line and making a great first impression will stick with them.

Implement your own screening questions process

Save time for your recruiters and create a better candidate experience by setting up an automated screening questions process. It’s easy to set up and can be utilized over and over again.

DocQ allows for all of the above to be implemented via our no code interface in a matter of minutes. See how easy it is to set up screening questions with DocQ or grab a demo slot and let us show you.

written by

Rachel Bucher

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