Screening Candidates

The process of screening candidates takes time and effort. The objective is to make a big pile of candidates a little pile. There are no real shortcuts. There are however some techniques and pointers like phone interview tips that make the process go quicker and reveal the better candidates faster.

The Process of Screening Candidates

There are 3 steps in the screening process for great candidates, reviewing resumes and cover letters, the phone interviews and sorting for the top candidates.

Each step has a number of dependencies and trade offs. For example, when reviewing resumes, many use a scanning process, some just use a keyword search, others still read the full resume, cover letter and supporting material. My suggestion is to do what makes sense for the position. Your time is valuable. Finding top candidates for top positions yields the biggest band for the buck.

Resume Review

When screening candidates, the first step is to review resumes. We have a whole section on resume review but the most efficient process is to scan for keywords and read over the last 3-5 years job duties. Look for long gaps in employment, lack of job hopping and progressively more responsibility. Stick to those basics an you can move to the next step.

Phone Screen

For candidates that make it past the resume review, many times the next step is a quick phone screen . This serves two purposes, first you can use it to verify the candidate is active and available for new positions. The second purpose is to find out how the candidate presents themselves to the outside world and gauge verbal communication skills. For positions that involve work with customers or require a good fit, you can often gauge quite a bit on that first call. Visit our page on the phone interview for more ideas on how to do a phone interview.

Other Considerations

Other considerations include examination of supporting documents if available like cover letters and letters of reference . Obviously you are looking for an overall impression. For instance, is the writing in the cover letter clear and concise? Do the job references include peers and upper management or are the just peers? You are basically using these documents to give you indications and maybe to break a tie when sorting candidates...which leads us to...

Sorting for Top Candidates

Again this is a not as much a scoring exercise as it is to find the top 5 or 10 candidates to take them to the next level. I recommend selecting at least 5 if available for the initial selection.

Take those candidates and have a second person review them or better yet have the hiring manager(s) review them and select the ones they want to interview...which obviously is the next step!

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