Top 5 Tips to Consider When Screening Applicants

All in all, the secret of an effective screening process lies in the effective assessment of the screening process. An assessment will help you identify the positive and the negatives of the process, allowing you to plug the gaps and make the screening process more efficient.

Human resources are perhaps the most invaluable asset of any organisation and a significant investment. Hence, before you officiate this investment with an offer letter, you need to ensure that the applicant was screened properly. This blog will provide you with a comprehensive guide on screening applicants to find the best candidates for the job.

So, before you rush down the pages and embark on a screening applicants spree, take a few moments to step back and make sure you have given due thought to these aspects:

  • Identify your must-haves and nice-to-have skills: Knowing the broader skills or the nice-to-have requirements can help you funnel down your talent pool. But knowing the exact requirements or the must-have skills will help you screen better.
  • Beware of your inherent bias: Yes, this aspect is bound to crop up whether we allow it or not. After all, we are humans, and we love to favour the similarities in an individual. Such biases can harm an effective application screening process. Therefore, make sure to take an analytical approach to recruitment.
  • Sharpen the candidate experience: You may have to deal with a plethora of eligible candidates for a job position in a given time frame. That doesn’t mean you can overlook candidate experience in your quest to find the right match. Sourcing is the first and best opportunity to boost your company’s brand image by delivering a great candidate experience. So, be transparent and precise in your communications, give feedback, and follow through on the emails. Candidate has the right to seek information regardless of them getting selected or not.

So, once you have captured your requirements, you can now move on to the candidate screening process. It includes the following five phases:

  1. Application phase
  • Screen resumes
    Resumés never get old. A resumé is the most preferred and traditional method of showcasing the experience and skills to the hiring companies. Even in this highly digitised era, a resumé is the best method for a job-seeking candidate to introduce themselves to a prospective company.

So, scan the resumé and find out every notable information such as their work history, education qualification, certification and background. Scan further to find any essential skills or core skills that are relevant to the jobs position. And then compare all the accumulated information with your must-haves and nice-to-have requirements. Does any resumé they fit the bill? If they do, then you can move on to the next step.

  • Screen cover letters
    Nowadays, cover letters have become a trend. Most job-seeking candidates include a cover letter with their job applications. If your recruiting strategy considers cover letters as an important element of the screening process, then ask the candidates to provide a cover letter with their job application form.

Here are some of the aspects of the candidate that you can learn about by screening their cover letter:

  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Their attitude and motivation for applying for the job
  • Career goals
  • Clear structure
  • Consistency between cover letter and resumé

If you find the cover letters confusing and unconvincing, then you could send them a questionnaire consisting of open-ended questions to know more about the candidate.

  1. Phone interview

After you have successfully screened the resumé and the cover letter of the candidate and shortlisted applicants based on your findings, then you can make the first official move by calling the applicants for a phone screening round.

A phone screening will be your first actual contact with the applicant. As a part of candidate screening, you can ask the candidate about their professional and educational qualifications in an attempt to cross-check that the information provided on the phone matches with the one in the resumé.

At this stage, you will find the first red flags from the candidate, like:

  • The candidate does not answer or worse, return your calls.
  • The candidate is indifferent or rude during the conversation.
  • The candidate provides inconsistent information.

These red flags will help you determine whether to go the next step or to go to the next candidate altogether.

  1. Assessment

During phone screening in recruitment, if the candidate passes with flying colours, then you can move on to the next step and ask the candidates to undergo an assessment test. You can subject them to several tests, as a part of the process of screening job applicants, to assess their capabilities as per your job requirements. You can customise your tests to get as much information as possible about the candidate. You can even determine whether the candidate is a culture fit for the company with a simple test.

The usual tests that are conducted during candidate screening include:

  • Aptitude test: This test is used to measure the language and arithmetic ability of the candidate.
  • Personality test: This test helps to understand the strengths and character of the candidate, and if they possess the necessary behavioural traits for the job or not.
  1. Interview

An interview is the most important part of the application screening process. However, personal interviews can stress out both the candidate as well as the interviewer, as both parties will get evaluated by the other, and each is under pressure to create a positive first impression.

For the interviewer, it is about asking the right questions, which determine the knowledge about the job requirements and roles and responsibilities it entails. On the other hand, for the candidate, it is about giving the best answers most appropriately.

So, interviewers can start by engaging the candidate with an authentic conversation. When the candidate is at ease, and the interviewer has got a hold of the situation, then they can start bombarding the questions, which could include:

  • Behavioural and situational questions to better understand their personality
  • Questions based on their skills to determine their professional knowledge and experience
  • Questions based on values to determine if the candidate is a good culture fit for the team
  1. Background check

If the candidate was convincing and successful during the interview, then it may seem perfectly logical to extend the job offer to the candidate then and there. However, before you decide, conduct a thorough background check of the candidate. This process is an important part of screening applicants and should never be ignored.

An in-depth background check will help you uncover many facts as well as the issues about the candidate. However, make sure that you conduct the background checks ethically and legally without hampering the integrity and privacy of the candidate. Having a comprehensive company policy about background checks helps you navigate through sensitive matters during the screening process when they arise.

You could do background checks on the following:

  • Criminal history
  • Credit reports
  • Driving records
  • Verification of documents

You can even customise your background checks depending on the nature of the job and the job requirements.

Finally, if you are recruiting for technical roles and have more than one suitable candidate to choose from, then you can opt for job trials. Here, you give a particular task to the candidates and ask them to finish the task within the required time. You can then evaluate them on their technical knowledge and skills and accordingly make your decision.

Screening applicants is important before offering them the job. You could take the help of an applicant tracking system (ATS) to manage the screening process more efficiently. All in all, the secret of an effective screening process lies in the effective assessment of the screening process. An assessment will help you identify the positive and the negatives of the process, allowing you to plug the gaps and make the screening process more efficient.

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One of the prime contributors for this blog, Expertise in Staffing and Recruitment, Content Strategist by Profession. A Music Lover & Traveller by Choice.

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