How to Screen Job Applicants

As part of the recruiting process, the screening of applicants is a key piece of narrowing down potential candidates to join your team.  However, how do you know if your screening process may be missing a strong candidate?  Or what if your screening process is too strict and you are eliminating solid candidates before they even meet with you for an interview? As part of our “How To” series this month, Aspire Recruitment Solutions has provided these tips for screening job applicants.

Tips for Screen Job Applicants

Taking the time to properly review applications and screen job applicants will make your recruiting process more efficient and will improve your hiring process while ensuring that you make the right decision in your hiring practices.  It should be noted that there are exceptions to any rule, but taking the time to carefully review job applicants can save your organization time and money in the long run.

How to Screen Job Applicants

  1. Review the job description – this should go without saying, but be sure that you review the job description. Understand the position(s) that you are hiring for. You want to ensure that the candidates’ skills match up with the job posting.
    • Be clear on the level of experience required
    • Know what skills are must have and which skills are nice-to-haves
    • Be specific with your job posting
  2. Start with internal applicants – Now this depends on the desired skillset required for the posted position. However, quite often hiring from within gives you a step up as you already know the candidate, their work ethic and you should have a strong understanding of their strengths and weaknesses (if any). Look to post jobs internally before opening it up to external candidates.  While in some cases this may not be possible, look from within first.
  3. Review All Applications – depending on the position and number of applications received, you will want to review all of the applications if possible. You’ll probably have a series of emails or resumes to review, but you never know if the top applicant’s resume was second from the bottom if you don’t go through all of them.
  4. Sort the candidates into two stacks: one for “Maybes” and one for “Not the right fit” – you can cull applicants based on specific criteria that you deem as must haves. For example:
    • Applicant lacks key skills
    • Applicant lacks education/designation requirement
    • Applicant did not complete key areas of the application
    • Applicant is simply not qualified
  5. Prioritize your shortlist – sort your “maybe” pile and put what you feel are the best applicants on top. You may want to prioritize by:
    • Applicants who have the required skills plus experience
    • Applicants who have the required skills and designations
    • Applicants who’s cover letter and resume stood out
  6. Create an interview list – review your shortlist. If you have the resources and time to interview all prioritize the interviews based on those candidates who have all of the qualifications vs those who only have some of the qualifications. Consider creating a rating systems (1-5) in terms of which candidates deserve and interview.
  7. Conduct phone interviews – in the interest of time, schedule quick phone interviews with the candidates. Probably 10-15 minutes is all you require.  This should give you a better feel for the candidates.
  8. Cull your shortlist – based on your phone interview, you should be able to further reduce the list of candidates based on your initial conversation.
  9. Schedule in-person interviews with the top applicants – based on their resume, cover letter and phone interview you should be able to compile a list of candidates that you with to move forward with.
  10. Check references from previous employers – based on your in-person interview, you should be able to further cull your list of candidates. Check employer references to get actual facts and insight about the candidates.

Bonus Tip: Remember the good applicants that you opted not to move forward with.  Keep their resumes and cover letters on file should you need to hire for this position in the future.

Accurate screening of applicants takes a bit of planning, but it can help you make a better informed decision on moving forward with the best candidate for the position.

Need assistance with your recruiting efforts? Contact us today [link to:] to set up a consultation.  Speak with one of our experienced HR consultants and begin preparing for your 2018 staffing needs today!