Job application

4 essential screening questions to include in your application

GUEST NOTE: Adding screening questions to your job application lets HR get to know you before they see your resume. HR uses it to gather candidate information and separate serious candidates from casual candidates. Since you cannot include all of the screening questions in a half-page application letter, you need to be strategic and answer only the essential questions. Here are five job application letter filter questions you should consider.

Screening questions to include in your application

1. Who are you and what qualifications do you have?

Here you will explain why you match the position you are applying for in terms of qualifications. Does your qualification match what the company advertised? What made you feel fit for the role? If you have soft skills, this can be an added advantage. It is also an opportunity for the employer to find out if you need further training or retraining.

2. Why are you looking for a new job?

When you’re looking for a new job, a prospective employer will want to know where you worked previously, what role you played there, and what contributions you made there. This serves three purposes:

  • This is an overview of your previous employment information, including your place of employment, experience and level of commitment
  • This is an opportunity for HR to understand your level of passion and how you feel about your former (or current) employer, including your preferred work environment
  • This gives HR insight into your career ambitions to help them determine if you are a good candidate for the job.

Providing this information in your cover letter is a statement to your employer that you are who you say you are in terms of experience and company compatibility.

3. Why do you want this role?

Before the company asks you why you want to work there, give the answer spontaneously in the application letter. HR departments will ask candidates about their desire to work in their company for four reasons:

  • To assess their knowledge of the company
  • To understand their genuine interest or passion for the open role
  • Determine if the described job description is suitable for future company announcements
  • To understand the contributions you will make to the role

Candidates who understand the role and the company will have firm answers reflecting their understanding. It also simplifies background research and truth-finding for the business.

4. What motivates you?

Tell the company what motivates you and the work environment in which you work best. It’s an overview of HR to see if your motivating factors, such as flexible working hours and specific benefits, match their company. If you’ve done your background research, you’ll be sure to note the company culture and understand how the work environment can drive your performance.


Responding to your application’s screening responses can help you through the hiring process and position you as a potential candidate. This demonstrates your understanding of the role and the business. Remember to keep it brief, because you’re writing a cover letter and don’t have the luxury of telling stories.


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