How to Screen Candidates: 6 Tips for Application Screening

How to Screen Candidate Applications

Candidate screening is a balancing act. 

Hiring managers are always wary that making the wrong hire can be costly. But a drawn-out screening process will have even the most engaged candidates tired of jumping through hoops.

How do you find that sweet-spot between effective screening and a hiring process that’s simply too long?

Candidate screening is one of the most important processes in recruitment. It’s used to identify the most qualified candidates and filter out the unsuitable ones.

Whether you are a hiring manager, talent acquisition specialist, recruiter, or a member of the leadership team, you want to ensure that you are finding the best candidate possible. Here are six tips for screening candidates that will help you hire them.

What is Candidate Screening

Application screening is the process of reviewing and evaluating resumes or CVs (Curriculum Vitae) submitted by job applicants to identify the most suitable candidates for a job. Screening involves reviewing each candidate’s resume or CV to verify their qualifications, work history, and skills. By using this technique, hiring managers can quickly filter out unsuitable candidates and focus on the ones who meet the requirements of the position.

As a hiring manager, screening candidates is an essential part of the recruitment process. The right screening techniques can help you find better candidates and avoid wasting time interviewing, or even hiring, the wrong person. 

What’s the Difference Between Candidate Screening and Vetting?

Both candidate vetting and application screening are essential components of the pre-employment check. While they may seem similar and are both critical to the recruitment process, they serve different purposes. 

Candidate vetting involves verifying the candidate’s qualifications, work history, and references to ensure that they fulfil the legal requirements to be a suitable fit for the job and the organisation. Application screening, on the other hand, involves reviewing resumes and other application materials to identify the most qualified candidates and ensure they have all the experience, knowledge and skills they claim.

6 Steps for Successful Candidate Screening

1. Use a Multi-Stage Interview Process

An interview process with multiple stages can help to ensure you get a well-rounded understanding of the candidate’s experience, skills, and personality. This might include a phone screening, an initial in-person interview, a second in-person interview, and a final interview with the leadership team. Each stage of the interview process should be designed to gather more information about the candidate and to assess their suitability for the job.

Keep in mind that most candidates will be applying and interviewing for multiple opportunities. If the interview process is too long, you could find perfect applicants being hired elsewhere or dropping out. Only use as many stages as absolutely necessary. 

2. Look for Relevant Experience

Look for candidates who have relevant experience in the industry or a similar role. A candidate who has experience in the same or a similar job will likely have the skills and knowledge required to perform well in the role. Look for specific examples of how they have applied their skills in previous roles and how it might translate to the role they are applying for.

While relevant experience is always a bonus, you should also ensure you don’t get stuck on it. There are plenty of excellent candidates out there with the necessary soft skills willing and wanting to be trained. 

3. Consider Diversity and Inclusion

Hiring a diverse team can bring new perspectives and ideas to your organisation and create a more inclusive workplace culture. Look for ways to attract a diverse pool of candidates, such as posting job ads on diversity-focused job boards, working with specialist recruiters, or attending job fairs for underrepresented groups.

Additionally, assess your screening process to ensure that it is unbiased and that all candidates are evaluated fairly regardless of their background or identity. This includes using standardised evaluation criteria and avoiding questions that could lead to discriminatory hiring practices. By considering diversity and inclusion in your hiring process, you can build a stronger, more inclusive team that is better equipped to serve a diverse customer base and tackle complex business challenges.

4. Check References

Sure, it seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many employers dismiss this. Always check the candidate’s references before making a job offer. This can help you verify the information provided by the candidate and get a better understanding of their past performance and work style.

When checking references, be sure to ask specific questions related to the job requirements and the candidate’s qualifications. Since past performance is often the best predictor of future performance, a reference check is one of the most important steps in your screening process.

5. Utilise Technology

Technology can streamline the screening process and help you evaluate candidates more efficiently. For example, you can use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to manage resumes and applications, automate email communication, and track candidate progress through the screening process. Video interviewing tools can also help you conduct initial interviews remotely, saving time and resources. Additionally, tools such as LinkedIn, social media, and online skills assessments can help you evaluate a candidate’s skills and experience more thoroughly. By utilising technology in your screening process, you can improve efficiency, accuracy, and candidate experience.

6. Evaluate Cultural Fit

A candidate who is a good cultural fit is more likely to be satisfied with their job and stay with the organisation for the long term. Screening for cultural fit includes evaluating the candidate’s values, work style, and communication style to ensure they align with the workplace. You can also assess cultural fit by listening to the candidate’s response to questions related to company culture and values, particularly open-ended questions, and observing their behaviour during the interview.

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One of a recruiter's key responsibilities will be to pre-screen your candidates, ensuring you end up with a shortlist of vetted, qualified applicants. 

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Final thoughts

In closing, the key to successful candidate screening is to be thorough, objective, and intentional. By using a multi-stage interview process, looking for relevant experience, using behavioural interviewing techniques, checking references, conducting skills assessments and evaluating cultural fit, you can make better hiring decisions and select the right candidate for the job.

By using the tips above, you can identify the most qualified candidates for the job and ensure you hire the best candidate.

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