A guide to applicant screening for small businesses

  • Applicant screening questions are a great way to sift through a large volume of job applicants based on their initial qualifications.
  • Most employers use a short questionnaire attached to the job application to better understand whether or not an applicant is fit for the role.
  • Homebase hiring not only posts your job on all the top sites but allows you to select applicant screener questions to help you make better hiring decisions.

What does screening applicants for employment mean?

After you have scanned the resumes and cover letters, found several job candidates you are interested in, and are ready to start with interview questions for certain applicants, it’s important to implement a screening process. 

Applicant screening questions or applicant tracking systems are a tool small business employers use to screen out candidates in their applicant pool who do not have the proper work experience or do not meet other minimum requirements for the position at hand. 

Different questions are used throughout the selection process to qualify an employee for different measurements. They can be used to determine if an applicant is legally allowed to apply for a job. They can also be used to determine if they meet the minimum requirements for the role or are able to follow your hiring timeline. 

A few examples of pre-employment screening questions for job applicants include:  

  • This position would require you to work in the office during normal business hours. Are you able to work explicitly at our location’s headquarters during normal working hours? 
  • If we determine you are a good fit for this open position, when would you be able to start working? 
  • Are you a United States citizen, or do you have legal permission to work in the US?  

Screening applicants, along with background checks, reference checks, and other employment verification tactics, is typically executed by hiring managers and HR professionals. 

However, if you do not have these types of employees working for you, there are easy ways to include applicant screening questions in your hiring process, whether it’s through phone screens and phone interviews, or another strategy.

Homebase makes hiring for small businesses much easier by doing the hard work for you. With Homebase hiring, your job post will be posted simultaneously on the top job sites. Furthermore, you can add screener questions to your job posts so you can make better hiring decisions through tactics like skills testing and find the perfect candidate, saving you time during the interview process.

Why is applicant screening important?

Hiring and onboarding new employees can be a long and tedious process for small business owners who may not have the help larger companies have to locate and recruit the right candidates. If you end up hiring the wrong person and go through the employee training process and onboarding checklist with them before learning they are not fit for the job, an unnecessary amount of time is wasted.

Making the wrong decision on your quality of hire can lead to hiring mismatched and unqualified candidates. This can lead to a high level of employee turnover, which can cost you a lot of money in the long run.

Using applicant screening questions filters out the unsuitable candidates, minimizes the risk of hiring the wrong person, and saves time during the interview process. Implementing them into your selection strategy helps you better identify the right candidates that you would like to spend more time getting to know.

Reducing your applicant pool leaves you with a manageable amount of job seekers, which is much more efficient than attempting to handle large volumes of candidates for one job.

Homebase makes it easy to zero in on the perfect candidates from every job site in one easy-to-use dashboard. We post your job openings with the screening questions you selected. This allows you to sift through qualified applicants instead of wasting time weeding the unqualified candidates out yourself. You also don’t have to waste time searching through their social media pages to find answers.

Once you have found the perfect candidate, we will also optimize your onboarding process by sending the necessary new hire paperwork in an organized packet. We’ll even securely store your onboarding documents to


“We grew so attached to Homebase that I almost didn’t switch to a better POS system because I was worried about not being able to integrate Homebase. Luckily, we were able to upgrade our POS and keep Homebase - best of both worlds!”

Marko Sotto

Owner at Barzotto

Work from anywhere using timeclock app

What are some applicant screening methods?

Most employers deliver applicant screening questions to their job applicants through a short online questionnaire that they can complete as part of the initial application process.

Some employers also use a recruiter screening interview, or a preliminary interview, to go a click deeper and better understand if the person is fit for all aspects of the job. It might be a good idea to combine both methods, if you have the bandwidth to do so.

When selecting your screening questions, make sure they each have the following characteristics:

  • Focused on whether or not the applicant meets minimum job requirements
  • Ensure the applicant is fit for the role
  • Direct, they don’t try to trick the applicant
  • Easy to understand without leaving the applicant confused

If you use Homebase to provide screening questions to your applicant while they apply for your open job, it’s easy to get started. Once you have created and edited your job posts using our effective and customizable job post templates, you can add questions to optimize your vetting process.

After posting a job, you will be prompted to add up to three screening questions. Within a few hours, the questions will appear alongside your application. Applicants are not required to answer the questions in order to submit the application.

When you are ready to review your candidate responses, you can find them in the Manage Applicants page of your Homebase dashboard.

Creating job posts is easy, quick, and efficient when you use Homebase. With customizable job descriptions, free blanket job posting on the top sites, and the option to boost your posts, we take the hassle out of new employee hiring so you can spend time on video interviews, onboarding, and training.