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Candidate Screening

With the economy being what it is, it’s not unusual to receive over four hundred applications for a single post. As one client describe it;

Finding good candidates is still like finding a needle in a haystack, but the haystack just got bigger.

There has always been candidate screening but today it is even more essential. How do you get 400 down to 4?

The traditional approach to candidate screening

In theory the traditional approach would see you gather all the application forms and CVs together and go through them, creating a long list. You would then contact all the people that didn’t make it to your long list and say “sorry not this time”.

Depending on how long your long list is, you may then give each applicant a call or have them jump through a second hoop of some sort.  At this stage you are still trying to get it down to a manageable short list so that you can interview them.

Eventually you get around four people for a short list and interview them all, hopefully offering one of them the job.

Well that’s the theory but you can see the problems with this approach.

  1. Who is going to do the first screening? Let’s face it it’s not likely to be you. This is something you will delegate.
  2. What criteria will you use to screen? How do you get 400 down to 4?
  3. At what point do you stop looking for the very best candidate and start caring only about getting it from 400 to 4?

Does it work?

Let’s face it the traditional screening process doesn’t really work. It may be OK if you only have five applications but it doesn’t work when you have forty.

Another big problem with this type of candidate screening is that it is all about elimination. It is not necessarily about finding the best candidate for the job.

There is a misconception that elimination will leave you with the best candidates but it is far from true. Elimination will simply remove people who do not easily match your brief. However this presumes the brief is infallible.

This is why we see scenarios where people apply for their own jobs and do not even get an interview. A senior high profile executive did this as an exercise recently to demonstrate how flawed the recruitment process is. And as expected, he did not even make it through the first stage. This was for the job he had been successfully doing for years.

What Candidate Screening Questions Will You Use?

You need different questions at different stages of the screening process. In the first screening you want to deal with simple deal breaker questions. Something that has a Yes / No answer. THis will allow you to delegate the task to a junior person or outsource it.

For instance if the job required a driving license then you could use that as a deal breaker question.

An improved Candidate Screening Process

As we have already established the traditional candidate screening process is far from ideal. It often throws out the baby with the bathwater and isn’t very efficient either. In fact it ignores the most important aspect of a successful hiring decision.

If you are trying to put the right person in the right job then the most important factor is personality fit. If they do not have the personality fit for the role then they will not work out in the long run. Even if they tick every other box, without their personality suiting the role in hand, it will not be sustainable.

So for this reason your first wave of candidate screening should be personality type. Create a personality benchmark and look for candidates that come close. At least now you know if they have the other skills and experience and qualifications you are looking for, then they will most likely work out.

Traditionally employers only use personality profiling at the very end of the process; on the interviewed candidates. This is too late in the process.

  1. Carry out a personality profile on all applicants, shortlisting the ones that match your personality benchmark. You have now taken 400 down to 100 immediately.
  2. Now implement you deal breaker questions. This may get you down to 50 or less.
  3. Now you have a short long list and can start to look at CVs and Applications.
  4. Now you can pick some to interview. Order a more detailed personality report fro the interview list if you want.

This is a much more effective way to carry out job candidate screening.

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