How to Screen Job Candidates

The good news is, you’ve got a flood of applicants replying to your job posting. The bad news is, you’ve now got to pre-screen everyone to get your pool down to a manageable number of high quality candidates for potential interviews. Your first inclination may be to search for all the applicants who don’t measure up. However it’s more effective to take a positive approach. You’re looking for a person to hire, not for someone to eliminate. So screen in, not out.
Here are a few tips to help streamline the pre-employment screening process:
  • Reading résumés. Create a system for cross-checking your job requirements and skills as described on your job description with the facts on a résumé. Since most résumés are written in reverse chronological order, read from back to front so you can follow the person through their career path. It will be easier to pick up on trends. The cover letter is important too. It shows you how well the applicant can express themselves in a concise manner and provides insight about their communication and writing skills.
  • Phone screening. A short, 10-15 minute phone interview can provide valuable insight about the candidates who pass the résumé screen. Develop four to six key questions that address your most important concerns. Ask the same questions of each applicant so you can better compare the results. The candidates that score well after this stage should all look like someone you’d consider hiring.
  • Checking social media networks. More and more companies are using LinkedInFacebook y Twitter to check up on job candidates. Screening social media helps you look for examples of behavior at odds with what you learned on the résumé and phone screen. This includes drug use, trashing of former employers, and social commentary that may run counter to your company’s culture.
  • Email interactions. Emails are another way to analyze a candidate’s writing skills along with their ability to communicate clearly and concisely. Millennials (ages 20-30, or so) may not have used email very much, having grown up with texting as a preferred mode of personal communication. It’s very easy for intentions to be misunderstood in an email, so look for candidates who can avoid messaging that may come across as overly emotional, angry or dismissive.

Game Plan

Get organized before you start screening. Create a database where you can note positive attributes and rank applicants. Or just take careful notes on a legal pad. Whichever system is most comfortable, be consistent in how you evaluate each candidate at each stage of the screening process. Discuss your results with a colleague to make sure you didn’t miss something important. Keep coming back to your job description to confirm your applicant meets all the listed requirements. This prevents you from falling in love with an unqualified applicant who is otherwise passionate with an outgoing personality.
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