Five Tips on How to Screen Job Applicants


hire good employee

Between 2011 to 2016, the average number of applicants per job vacancy in Australia was 16. And for bigger companies, the number of applicants per job vacancy can be way over 100. For hiring managers who are inundated in tons of applications, choosing the best candidate is synonymous with finding a pin in a haystack. However, if done correctly, having the right people in any organization will lead to growth and development. 

That’s why this post will explore five tips on how to screen job applicants

Know What is Needed

The first step towards making a sound hiring decision is knowing what is required in an ideal candidate. This will immensely impact how the job advert and screening process will be structured as well as the kind of applicants that will be attracted. Once the job requirements and essential qualifications are clearly defined, the job search and screening process can be adapted to find the right talent for the role.

Create a Consistent Screening Process

The idea of consistency in screening processes is not only an ethical issue; it’s also a legal one. Employers can be sued for discriminatory practices. Asides from that, an inconsistent process will surely lead to lapses and, at the end of the day, it makes it difficult to find the best candidate. Here are some tips on how to have a consistent screening process:

  1. Ensure that the screening is thorough.
  2. Adhere to anti-discriminatory laws surrounding hiring in Australia.
  3. Consistency in questioning must be observed.
  4. Have predetermined selection criteria.
  5. Have a concrete evaluation metric for the interviews, cover letter, and resumes. 
  6. Never make an on-the-spot decision.
  7. If no candidate is suitable, do not select the best of a bad lot. Rather, redo the recruitment process.

Properly Screen Each Job Application 

The application phase typically involves screening resumes, cover letters, and video applications (if applicable). It may also include a phone screen. 

While screening resumes;

  1. Pay attention to the applicants’ education, skills, and experience to see whether they’re suited for the role. 
  2. Pay attention to grammatical blunders, typos, and other silly mistakes. It may be indicative of an applicant’s lack of interest or inferior writing skills. 
  3. Take nor of unexplained job gaps.

While screening cover letter, here are some of the things you should look for:

  1. The motivation for the role and attitude.
  2. Future career goals.
  3. Strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Consistency between the resume and cover letter.
  5. Clear structure.

Based on the applications, the most suitable candidates should move to the phone screen stage. 

Phone Screen

Phone screening provides an opportunity for employers to gather more information and clarify points that weren’t clear in the application. During the phone screen phase, pay attention to the following.

  1. If the candidate has a rude or different attitude: It’s usually an indication that they’re not interested. The lack of questions at the end of the phone screen may also indicate a lack of interest in the candidate.
  2. If the candidate has provided inconsistent information: This usually means they have something to hide. 

Make The Interview Worthwhile

The interview provides a unique opportunity for employers to interact with candidates in real-time and get a feel of their personality, interests, experience, and so on. That is why it has to be carefully crafted so has to provide immense information on the applicants. 

During the interview process, take note of the following tips.

  1. Ensure that the environment is relaxed before the interview commences.
  2. Ask behavioral questions to understand how a person reacts in certain contexts.
  3. Use skill-based questions to judge the applicant’s competence for the role.
  4. Ask value-based questions to see if they are a good fit for the company’s culture.
  5. Also test for effective communication, attitude, and consistency.

A well-executed interview will help you select the best applicant out of the finalists. 

Do Thorough Background Checks

The screening process isn’t complete without a thorough background check. It ensures that the applicant is whom they say they are. Employers should, however, follow all the legal aspects of the process, respecting candidates’ privacy and integrity. 

Some of the background checks include:

  • Criminal history checks
  • Driving record
  • Verification reports (I.e identity, education, certifications, etc)
  • Credit history reports
  • Carry out a police check depending on the country that you are in. For example, for Australia you will need a national police check that is valid in all Australian states and territories. 

Only the relevant background checks must be weighed during this process to avoid losing great candidates on baseless grounds.