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How To Screen Candidates: 5 Best Practice Tips

To screen candidates effectively involves a careful review and consideration of all job applications. It is one of the most time-consuming parts of a recruiter’s role. On average, it takes hiring teams (using in-house resources) 5.19 days to screen job applications and then select potential talent.

The process needs to be vigorous and every job application deserves a thorough review. Otherwise, employers can increase the chance of ‘missed talent’, rushed decisions and unfair treatment of potential candidates.

Screening job applications is a vital initial recruiting stage that paves the way for the rest of the hiring process. Follow these 5 tips for candidate screening best practices:

Set screening criteria

Essentially, the key to a successful candidate screen is to define specific job applicant criteria. In order to assess and benchmark applications against a job role. Set a standard skill and experience requirement that a successful candidate must meet in order to progress further. Additionally, to narrow down applications further, specify the length range of experience and educational background the candidate must have such as degree subject and grade.

Keep the risk of unconscious bias at the forefront of your strategy

Unconscious bias occurs during the screening process when recruiters favour one application over another for reasons they do not notice and can therefore justify. The unconscious activity drives reason to hire and is based on presumption and judgement, that shape the belief of a good role fit. However, the effects of doing so are incredibly damaging to inclusivity and diversity.

To avoid the risk of unconscious bias, adopt a blind screening approach. This will ensure personal and identifiable elements to a CV are removed and recruiters can focus solely on the skills, experience and other job-related factors.

Review all job applications

In order to avoid missing out on top talent review 100% of all job applications.  Some hiring managers can make the mistake to screen candidates up until they find enough talent. Unfortunately, due to time restraints and limited recruiter resources, this leads to a pile-up of leftover applications that will not be reviewed. Which in turn, will increase the probability of missed talent, inconsistent screening and unfair handling of job applications.

Establish reasons for unsuccessful candidates

Prior to the screening process and after setting the screening criteria for a successful candidate, determine reasons why a candidate should not advance. This can be simple reasons such as, they did not fill out a certain section of their job application or they possess unrelated work experience. But it can also be more specific such as setting a bracket length of experience the candidate must fall into. Often employers can afford to be more selective when receiving a high volume of job applications.

Implement recruiting technology

To screen candidates, hiring teams can implement technology for a fast and efficient review of job applications. Particularly if employers recruit for multiple different vacancies, screening software can be extremely beneficial. Automated solutions significantly reduce the risk of bias by screening all job applications against the same role criteria. Whilst saving valuable time, as automation screens multiple job applications in seconds.

Many employers who implement screening software will see an improvement in the candidate experience. Utilising technology gives time back to the recruiter and allows them to refocus on the candidate and their hiring journey. Through quick response times, job updates, transparency and fair consideration for the role, candidates are more likely to feel happier and engaged with their potential employer.

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