Ever since Covid-19 swept across the nation and phased lockdowns followed, companies had to cancel or postpone interviews. Now that the country finds itself in the unlock phase, several companies are now open for business. While some of them do not have an immediate need for new employees, there are others with hiring plans in full swing.

With the pandemic not yet gone, frontline and supply chain workers doing their bit to fight it, and companies traversing and embracing the so-called new normal of remote work, the need to identify and screen talent is now more than ever. 

Why is Candidate Screening Important?

Employees are brand ambassadors once employed. It is therefore essential that employers take extreme caution when selecting them for any role within the company. In fact, they’re responsible for them and their actions. 

An employee with a bad reputation who acts in a manner that is not in the best interest of the company can deface the brand image. By screening a candidate you effectively ensure that your employee is not causing any harm to the organisation and its clients.

Screening is not just a phase of hiring but also a legal responsibility of the employer. Therefore, once onboarded and retained without performing background screening, the worker’s action will be your liability and you may ultimately have to pay the price for being negligent while hiring. 

Candidate screening or background screening is composed of:

  • Verification of education qualifications and employment history
  • Review of any unlawful criminal or civil records 
  • Drug screening and address verification

Apart from the 3 components mentioned above, employers also pre-screen candidates for skills assessment, personality, psychological aptitude. 

How Has Candidate Screening Changed Since the Pandemic?

With in-person screening and interviewing out of the question, employers have turned to many methods to screen candidates remotely. These aren’t what you would describe as ‘’new’’; they’ve always been around but never explored on such a massive scale that too on short notice.

  1. Candidate Pre Screening

Hiring has already started picking up in several industries and sectors. With the easing of lockdown norms candidates are applying to many jobs. The numbers will only swell once the pandemic is over. 

Manual screening of resume and performing background checks for a single employee takes anywhere between 4-10 days and costs a couple of thousands of rupees. The whole affair takes more time and funds for senior executive and leadership roles. 

Time is of the essence as a company can miss out on a potential candidate by the time screening is performed for a candidate. Employers can instead leverage prescreen surveys. 

Here’s how it works: once the candidate applies for the role, a survey with perhaps a questionnaire, checkboxes for additional requirements prepared by the employer will be sent to the candidate. Within a set time, the candidate must finish the survey and submit it. Those who score well can move on to the next phase of recruitment, whereas those who score low or do not meet a certain criteria in the survey will be rejected.

  1. Assessing Skills with Artificial Intelligence

AI has gained massive popularity in the past couple of years. It plays a massive role in talent acquisition for the hiring industry. And with the pandemic-induced social distancing and crowding not yet over, automation has been thrust into the picture like never before. 

And so far, by the looks of things, it is keeping up the end of its bargain — effortlessly! 

Candidate screening though automated skills assessment has been one area where it’s been instrumental. Basically, what recruiters do is feed a set of questions, skills assessment tests — depending on the job role — to an automated entity like a chatbot which in turn reaches out to an applicant. Responses are recorded, applicants are scored based on their correct inputs, and the recruiter is alerted.

This saves precious time as the recruiter also doesn’t have to manually gauge their skills, go through their responses and resumes individually. Since the recruiter is no longer engaged and the automated assessment is fairly quick, the candidate pipeline will stay replenished with new applicants at all times. Moreover, the possibility of missing out on a potential talent as a result of an intensive screening process takes a massive tumble.

During the screening process, AI exhibits blind recruiting as in, there is not a shred of unconscious bias — what you see is what you get. And without it the hiring lifecycle and candidate quality improve as candidates are chosen based on their personal traits, skills, aptitude, and ability rather than personal preferences and likeability factor dictated by the ones hiring. 

  1. Contactless Screening

For thousands of employers, phone and video screening emerged as the number one method of screening at a time when in-person interviews aren’t possible. For many recruiters and job seekers the idea of a telephonic or a video is rather new. 

But since it’s a matter of finding employees for the employer, getting a job for the job seeker, and the overall safety of both the employer and the employee, telephonic and video interviews have become the norm, at least for the time being.

Although some candidates and employers might say that they aren’t as effective as in-person screening interviews, it’s way better than disbanding hiring plans. Something is better than nothing, right?

Studies say that 49% of recruiters, within the first 5 minutes of an interview, know if the candidate will fit in an organization. Moreover, almost 89% of the recruiters find out the same 15 minutes into the interview. With this ability and video conferencing software, apps, and tools such as Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom readily available — for both the employer and jobseeker — you could say that digital pre-screening can be as effective as in-person interviews, if not more.

In fact, a recruiter need only opt for video screening if the candidate passes the preliminary telephonic interview. In the first stage (telephonic interview) recruiters will be able to gauge the abilities and know for sure if the candidate is a good fit for the role. It helps them trim the candidate shortlist and only those who check all the boxes can proceed to the video interview. 

Shortlisted candidates can then be assessed on a deeper level during a video screening where their personality, communication skills, body language can be tested. What you’re left with is a candidate or a handful who have been assessed twice which means that they are twice as likely to be the right fit for the role and an asset for the organization as opposed to someone who gets selected after only one round of in-person interview.

  1. Outsource pre-employment screening

There are many benefits of choosing Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) over a traditional recruitment agency or your in-house HR team. The difference between an RPO and a traditional recruitment agency is that the former excels in long-term recruitment as opposed to the latter that specializes more in short-term hiring.

While your on-site HR department may be capable enough to handle candidate screening, they will most probably have their plates full in the current predicament that the world finds itself facing. RPO systems leave human resources free to concentrate on other aspects of their job and also improve candidate experience.

But that’s not all. Let’s take a loot at some of the other benefits of RPO pre-employment screening.

  • Conserve resources: Background checks take a lot of time as complex data has to be retrieved, assessed, and verified. In-house resources will be engaged and wasted for this task which could’ve been used elsewhere.
  • No bias of any sort: RPOs run background checks based on the data they have. In short, you do away with any in-house reports — which are laced with bias and judgement — that hampers the recruitment process. 
  • Within the rulebook: Background checks are not as simple as you think. Personal and private information is at play. An RPO plays by the rulebook when it comes to screening and employment. They ensure that checks comply with the legislation and screening regulations. Furthermore, letting an RPO handle a sensitive task like retrieval and vetting of information can save you from any non-compliance and statutory proceedings in court.
  • Swift reporting: RPOs are masters of pre-employment screening. Tier processes are streamlined and economical. What’s more, pre-screening reports prepared by an RPO usually arrive before others.
  • Always in the loop: An RPO offers years of expertise in pre-screening. They’re always aware of new screening methodologies and the overall employment landscape. 
  • Tools you don’t have: The screening technology, tools, or software employed by an RPO ensure accuracy. So, by outsourcing pre-employment screening to an RPO, you’re not only accessing expert tools at their disposal but also eliminating the cost of building and integrating such tools on your platform.
  • Putting employees at ease: Invasion of privacy is something nobody wants. For employees, knowing that the employer has access to all their information at all times can make them feel uncomfortable. By letting them know that you tied up with a third-party and verification was done off-site can put them at ease.
  • No room for error: As the employer, you will be satisfied to know that you got the best talent whose information checked out and is in no way a liability for the company.
    Tying up with an RPO while the pandemic continues can be beneficial for your company. They’re truly professional, have the experience, tools, and connections to streamline talent acquisition and pre-employment screening processes. Having said that, as the client and to get your money’s worth, you must always measure the performance of your RPO service provider

Your workforce is your greatest asset. By correctly identifying talent and thoroughly pre-screening them, you limit any risks and ensure that you have the competitive advantage even during economic downturns.

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Rishabh Ranjan

I have 10 years of experience in SEO, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, and have knowledge in topics like tax, HR, Recruitment & Staffing. When I’m not doing what I do, I suit up, flick the ignition on my bike, and hit the road. But soon enough, I’m back doing what I do best — researching, writing, marketing, and optimizing the content & website.

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