In today’s competitive job market, your company can receive dozens of applications the second postings for premium entry level jobs and internships go online. While you can usually eliminate a good chunk of candidates with a quick glance at their resumes and cover letters, you may discover that you have a wealth of seemingly qualified applicants to consider – a hefty task for any hiring manager.

As you likely don’t want to blindly disqualify certain people without further investigation, it would take far too much time and effort to bring each one in for a regular interview. In cases like these, the preliminary interview is particularly useful for narrowing the candidate field. Here are some tips to help get your initial conversation off on the right foot.

Typically, preliminary job interviews are conducted over the phone, as this is a good way to impress the more casual and convenient nature of the discussion. This will also help put less qualified candidates off their guard with the chance they will reveal some damning piece of information that will make your decision much easier. To keep the ball rolling, only set aside 15 to 30 minutes for the call so as not to cross into in-depth interview territory.

As you begin the phone call introductions, provide a little bit of information about the job to establish the type of candidate you’re looking for right off the bat. Next, a series of general questions about the applicant’s educational background, internship history, career aspirations and work ethic will also give you a sense of his or her character. While you don’t want to get too tricky, some common yet difficult questions like “What was the most difficult obstacle you had to overcome at your last job?” or “What is your greatest weakness?” can gauge the person’s ability to provide a succinct and appropriate answer under pressure.

Once you’ve taken a brief survey of the applicant pool, you can decide who sounded like the strongest candidates, and call them in for a more formal interview.