Pre-employment Questionnaire: How to Successfully Weed Out Unqualified Applicants

Sorting through applicants is no easy task. It takes a lot of time, energy, and patience.

According to one source, approximately 78% of resumes contain misleading information. Chances are, you’ve likely come face to face with some dishonest applicants. To weed out unqualified applicants and hire the cream of the crop, take advantage of a pre-employment questionnaire.

What is a pre-employment questionnaire?

A pre-employment questionnaire, or PEQ, is a screening tool businesses use to weed out unqualified candidates. Pre-employment screenings let you review applicants a little more in-depth. And after you screen candidates, you can set up interviews with applicants that stand out the most.

The ultimate goal of a PEQ is to find out how qualified a candidate is before you begin the interview process. You can use questions to gauge if the applicant is a good fit for the position and if they would blend in with your workplace culture.

PEQs can tell you a lot about your applicants, including their faults. You can get insight into a candidate’s communication and writing skills. Did they bother capitalizing their name on their PEQ? Did they make a lot of spelling errors in their responses?

When it comes to distributing PEQs, you have a couple of options. You can:

  • Send a digital questionnaire online (e.g., Google Form)
  • Have the applicant take an in-person questionnaire

Digital PEQs are convenient and easy-to-use. With online PEQ’s, you can send the questionnaire to applicants via email.

For example, at Patriot Software, we send Google Forms containing PEQs to applicants to fill out. After an applicant fills out the Google Form, their responses automatically upload to a Google Spreadsheet for review.

You can even use pre-employment screening software to track applicants’ answers and information.

In-person questionnaires can be a little more time-consuming than online PEQs. Not to mention, in-person questionnaires help you gather the same kind of information from candidates. In-person PEQs work best for smaller businesses with fewer applicants.

Don’t get lost in employee forms.

As a business owner, you have to make sure that you collect and file employment forms. The trouble is, there are a lot of employment forms to forget. Our free guide, Employment Forms You Should Be Familiar With for Your Small Business, has all the information you need.

What to include in a PEQ

So, what’s included on a pre-employment questionnaire? If this question has come to mind, you’ve come to the right place.

Again, your pre-hire questionnaire form is your time to weed out duds and find top-notch employees. Before you begin distributing PEQs to your potential employees, write effective screening questions.

Some types of questions you might want to ask employees include behavioral questions, ratings for skills, and open-ended questions.

Here are a few examples of some PEQ questions you can ask your applicants:

  • What would you do if you had a conflict with a co-worker?
  • How would you rate your interpersonal skills (scale of 1-10)?
  • What would you like to be doing in five years?
  • How would you describe your work style?
  • What makes a job fun?

Benefits of a pre-employment questionnaire

Pre-employment questionnaires might seem silly to you if you’ve never tried them before. You might be asking yourself, Why should I add an extra step in the hiring process? Are these questionnaires really that beneficial?

The truth is, PEQs can be extremely helpful for small businesses. Pre-employment questionnaires can help with:

  • Narrowing down applicants
  • Identifying key qualifications
  • Predicting employee behavior
Benefits of pre-employment questionnaires: narrow down applicants, identify key qualifications, predict employee behavior

In addition to the advantages above, PEQs can also save you time and money, decrease turnover, improve morale, and boost productivity.

Narrowing down applicants

Instead of sifting through dozens of resumes or calling multiple applicants, pre-employment questionnaires can give you a convenient way to narrow down candidates before you begin a round of interviews.

PEQs can help you find candidates with certain qualifications. Not to mention, they can also show you red flags about an applicant.

Identifying key qualifications

PEQs reveal a lot about your candidates. Strengths, weaknesses, and qualifications are just some of the things you can pinpoint using a pre-employment screening questionnaire.

In many cases, employers use PEQs to ensure an applicant is a good fit for the position. If an applicant’s qualifications don’t match up with the job description, get rid of them.

Predicting employee behavior

Pre-screening candidates can help you evaluate your applicants’ skills and anticipate their behavior as an employee.

Because PEQs typically have job-specific questions, you can use a mixture of pre-employment survey questions to help predict a candidate’s behavior in the workplace. For example, you might ask a series of questions asking the candidate to rate themselves on a scale from 1-10.

You might even consider asking short-essay questions to screen applicants on their writing skills and how they would react to a situation (e.g., “What would you do if” questions).

Already hired a new employee? Patriot’s payroll software lets you streamline your onboarding and payroll process. Try it for free today!

This article has been updated from its original publication date of October 7, 2019.

This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

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