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Unlock the best interview questions to ask with questionnaires

August 23, 2018

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Unlock the best interview questions to ask with questionnaires

5 min read

Throughout the hiring process, there are multiple ways you may come across interview questions to ask your candidates. Your colleagues may have pre-set questions or you may tailor them to the competency of the vacancy.  The selection of interview questions in itself is critical, as they are intended to help reveal the personality, experience, and qualities of the candidate at hand.

While many hiring teams prefer to tailor their interview questions to ask candidates in the traditional face-to-face interview format, questionnaires can be a powerful supplementary tool in the hiring process.  When used creatively, surveys can help you unlock your best interview questions to ask candidates at each stage, gather valuable feedback from candidates, and speed up your time to hire. Below we will cover some of the best ways to use questionnaires in your hiring process.

Pre-screening questionnaires

Applications should be seen as your first introduction to a candidate and for them to meet you. Often pre-screening questionnaires are used as a tool to ensure a candidate is suitable for the position. They can be used to verify language skills, certifications, and possession of the right to work.  They can also be an excellent opportunity to refine the interview questions to ask at the next stage of the hiring process.

You can use pre-screening questionnaires for more than just ensuring a candidate is suitable for a position. When used creatively, you can use a text-box survey to gain insights into a candidate’s motivation, experience, and work preferences. These answers can help inform and enrich the potential interview questions to ask at the face-to-face interview stage.

For example, if you are sourcing for Customer Success Managers, you could use a pre-screening questionnaire to request a short answer on what excites them about customer success. These answers could help you drill down on details at a later interview stage and enable more targeted (and revealing) questions.

Need inspiration? Here are three pre-screening questions might want to test the waters with:

  1. How did you find out about this vacancy?
  2. What inspired you to apply to this role?
  3. What are the top three things that are important for you in a job?

Filtering questionnaires

For certain positions, you may find yourself in a situation where you have more than a few candidates who qualify for the next interview stage. It’s an excellent place to be, but you’ll also want to filter down on candidates to get only the best applicants going forward.

You can use questionnaires to collect video responses or long-form answers to determine the best candidates to invite to the next step. You may also select to use some of the more basic interview questions you would have asked in the next stage in the filtering questionnaire. By getting the fundamental questions out of the way, you can focus on the better interview questions to ask during the next phase.

Pre-interview questionnaires

Pre-interview questionnaires are another point of contact that can engage your candidates and assist you in formulating great interview questions to ask beforehand.  These surveys can be used to ask candidates what kind of things they would like to know about the organization- either in multiple choice or short answer format. By collecting this information before the interview, your hiring team will be able to provide a more tailored experience for your candidates.

Additionally, sending out pre-interview questionnaires will encourage your candidates to think about the dreaded, “Do you have any questions for us?” closing sequence in most interviews. Thinking about their questions ahead of the interview can assist candidates in their preparation and enable more fruitful meetings for both parties.

Assessment questionnaires

There are some topics and skills you cannot adequately assess by refining your interview questions. Assessment questionnaires can play an essential role in helping you determine skill level and proficiency. Your assessment questionnaire could include document uploads, video response questions, or even multiple choice or short answer question sets.

You can tailor assessment questionnaires to the role or intended skill you would like to test. They are versatile and suited to testing anything from language proficiency to organizational cultural fit. If testing language proficiency, you can draft some long-form text answers for a candidate to respond to. If looking for a cultural fit, you might create a questionnaire diving into priorities in the workplace or core team values. Ultimately, paired with great interview questions to ask during other stages, assessments can help provide a comprehensive overview of the candidate.

Candidate experience questionnaires

Understanding candidate feedback can assist you in optimizing your hiring process and uncovering flaws in your standard interview questions to ask. Candidate experience questionnaires can help you ask general and specific questions about the recruitment process to candidates at various stages in the hiring process.

Candidate experience questionnaires can be extraordinarily powerful when used creatively. In addition to asking candidates generally about their experience of the interview (“Did the interview start on time?” or “Were your interviewers prepared?”), you can also ask candidates specific questions regarding the interview questions. For example, you might ask your candidates to rate the difficulty of the interview.

With more information and feedback, you will be able to better refine interview questions to ask future candidates.

Onboarding questionnaires

Onboarding can be a tricky stage for most hiring teams. In the whirlwind of the recruitment process, onboarding is sometimes considered by organizations as a nice-to-have. Questionnaires can help make this process smoother and play a small role in revamping your interview questions.

With a document upload capability, onboarding questionnaires can help you collect necessary candidate documents (ID, bank details, certificates, signed contracts). These questionnaires also have the potential to record your candidates’ expectations of the role and goals for the first week, month or quarter.  If you want to hone your interview questions to ask future candidates, onboarding questionnaires can even ask your successful candidates what their favorite interview question was.

When used imaginatively, questionnaires can become a powerful tool in your hiring process. They can be used to cut down your time to hire, engage your candidates in between meetings, and refine your interview questions. Ultimately, building in automated questionnaires into your recruitment process can help ensure the time you spend face-to-face with candidates is more valuable than ever.

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Adrie is a former recruiter and Recruitee's Head of Content. With a passion for hiring and tech, she is responsible for all the awesome stuff that gets published on this blog.
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