Career Advice

8 Expert Tips to Screen the Best Candidates

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As a growing company, recruitment drives are often needed. There may also be a need for the odd hire here and there when employees leave. 

Once you’ve posted up the relevant job ad, you’ll most likely see a wave of applications come through. Fantastic news for your business but then comes the mammoth task of having to go through every and screen every applicant.

So with that being said, there are some useful tips when it comes to screening your candidates. Using these methods can help reassure whoever is responsible for recruitment, that they’re picking the best applicants from the pile.

Why is it important to do a screening before the interview?

Pre-employment screening is an essential part of the recruitment process because it provides the evidence you need to select the right candidates. It can also help speed up the recruitment process overall, especially when each vacancy costs the average company $500 a day.

Candidate screening is crucial in identifying any potential issues with job applicants. This ensures that the interviewees are a good match for your company’s needs.

By gathering information on candidates early on in the hiring process, you can save time and streamline the recruitment process.

Candidate screening can help highlight any problems within those who’ve applied. It ensures that whomever you invite for an interview will be the right fit for you.Click To Tweet

8 essential tips for screening candidates

Screening candidates can ensure you clear out any bad options as well as provide a better quality of applicants to choose from. There’s nothing worse than having spent a lot of resources on recruitment to find that you’re picking from the best of a bad bunch. Here are eight essential tips for screening candidates.

1. Skills testing

The main thing that you’re looking for when recruiting is that the candidate can do the job. If they don’t have those core skills that you’re after, then there’s no point in progressing that candidate any further.

With that being said, you’re not going to get this from resumes, candidate references, or looking them up online. Instead, you’ll want to conduct some candidate skills testing. Consider what real-world skills will be needed within the role first and then set up simulations to help test those skills. Simulations are a great way to help transport the candidate to a virtual environment that will hopefully be as close to the real thing as possible.

If you’d rather conduct these tests offline then a paper assessment will be just as effective. However, be careful how you word the scenarios so that the candidate doesn’t get confused.

2. Go through resumes

Whilst this might not be everyone’s choice, screening the resumes by hand or via a computer is often the best way to find the best applicant. On average each corporate job offer attracts 250 resumes, so it’s a big feat for the person responsible for this task. 

When conducting resume screening, you want to keep to the first two pages. The information you’re after is going to be on the first or second page. If you want to be ruthless, you can remove any resumes that exceed the two-page mark.

In order to check things like grammar and spelling mistakes, it’s worth having a browser add-on like Grammarly. This can automatically flag any problems without you needing to read through it all.

Previous experience is obviously another important one, so pay good attention to this section in particular. 

3. Be attentive to cover letters

When applying for a job, a candidate will likely need to make a number of cover letters. In order to get the right candidate for the role, it’s good to be attentive to this part of the screening process.

This is one of the most commonly used screening methods. It helps you learn more about the candidate, their journey, and most importantly, why they want to work for you. There’s a lot of information that you can get from a cover letter and so it’s worthwhile asking for one. Of course, it’s more to read but it can tell you a lot about the prospective applicants.

According to ResumeLab, 63% of recruiters surveyed, said that cover letters are useful for explaining the candidates’ motivation for joining the company in question. In order to help keep those staff retention rates high, you want to be picking employees that see a future in the company and not simply as a short-term move. However, there are some job roles that might not need this, so it’s good to know what you want from the employees you hire.

4. Use a tracking system

With all this technology at our fingertips, having a tracking system can be a great way to keep on top of all those potential applicants.

Applicant tracking systems automatically run through resumes to find the best candidates without having to do much at all. For bigger enterprises, it can be a great way to speed up the process of getting candidates into the interview stages. 

Whilst smaller businesses may want to be more selective, this type of system can be helpful to those who have a large volume of applicants for each job listing.

A good suggestion for a system is Greenhouse. It’s said to be one of the best in ATS for the mid-market but now also catering to enterprises too. They offer their customers access to third-party applications at no extra charge and are used by the likes of Hubspot and Airbnb.

5. Check references in advance

Even though many recruiters will check references after offering the job to the candidate, it does help to check references in advance. However, you may only want to do this if they’ve left the company in question.

Checking references is another old-school technique when it comes to screening but you can get a lot from speaking to those who know them already. Even though it’s a screening technique that’s old-fashioned, many still use it. Particularly for those that are in senior positions, following up on references can confirm everything you feel that the candidate is. 

A few tips for checking references is to mention who you are. Be patient if you’re not speaking to their supervisor or manager directly and ask the right questions. It’s one of the best screening methods to confirm a candidate’s character.

6. Take a look online

According to research, 77% of all employers google their candidates before making the decision on whether to hire them or not. With social media platforms widely available and networking sites like LinkedIn, there’s a high chance you’re going to find your candidate online. 

Whilst not everyone may feel comfortable snooping on their potential employees, it’s good practice to ensure you’re hiring the right individual. Social media can often be a breeding ground for bad behavior and once it’s up on the internet, it’s likely to always be there to find.

For those senior or C-suite level positions, you may be looking for those with a strong presence online already, so it can have its benefits.

7. Paid trials

There are some companies that will have the budget available to offer paid trials. This can be handy to see the employee in action and serve as a test before offering the role. Even if they’ve managed to impress you up to this point, they may end up failing at the final hurdle.

Having them do half a day or a full day of work can assess their skills within the working environment. It can also show whether they fit in with the rest of the team/workforce. Company culture is something that every business has and so the candidate needs to fit in with the dynamic of the group.

The length of this paid trial might be a day, whilst others will do a week to a month depending on what they feel is best. Small businesses and start-ups can’t afford to get their hires wrong and so it’s important to get performance evidence of the potential employee.

8. Video interviews

Due to the pandemic, a lot of interviews have been forced to take place over video tools like Zoom and Skype. However, a good way to help screen your candidates before holding in-person interviews is to conduct video interviews. These might only need to be five or ten minutes long and can help confirm everything you’ve gathered from their resume.

Candidate screening is an essential process that allows you to form a positive first impression of job seekers. While it’s important not to judge a book by its cover, it’s still wise to make a good initial assessment.

To conduct a successful video interview, it’s crucial to prepare a list of questions in advance and ensure that your background appears professional. Also, pay close attention to the candidate’s presentation during the interview.

Screen your candidates for effective recruitment

Screening your candidates before hiring can be a great way of securing the very best employees for your business. With that in mind, make sure you use any of the above screening methods in your next recruitment drive.

Author Bio: Natalie Redman (LinkedIn)

Email – [email protected]

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