Screening: Separating Qualified Applicants

So you developed the job profile, wrote the description and posted it to your engaging careers website. You just mixed a job well done with a hungry job market. In other words, you just loaded the water with a whole lotta’ chum. Now you get to sit back, hold on tight, and wait for the sharks to circle. But the screening process can’t prove passive now. A million responses to your carefully crafted post won’t constitute anything if you can’t pick the great white out of the pack. It’s your responsibility to organize and evaluate. Your whole hiring process hinges on it.

Keep Focus

You hopefully have the burden of narrowing down a few applicants from many. In this job market, don’t be surprised by it. Remember what you want here. Stay focused and set guidelines for your screening process.

If the position requires an advanced degree, don’t settle for less.

If the position requires 5 years experience, stick by it.

Yes, No, Maybe so

Once you set your focus, try using a set of “yes or no” questions.

“Does this person have the 5 years of experience?” Yes. Next question.

“Does this person have 5 years of experience?” No. Next applicant.

Steady your aim and stick by your guns. However, don’t lost sight of the point. You want the best candidate and the best candidate wants a fulfilling career. You make the questions strict for a reason, just be sure you know what you need.

Cover Up

Cover letters can suck the life out of anyone reading or writing them. The writer needs to stand out from a crowd of people all trying to stand out. The reader must attempt to determine a human’s personality and qualifications from a few measly paragraphs.

Nobody said it was fair.

The cover letter could be the difference maker though. Consider its preparation and thoughtfulness. If someone took the time and effort to prepare a unique letter for your position, he or she probably has a lot more to offer or say. On the flip side, poorly prepared, vague and cookie cutter letters can offer a quick insight into an applicant’s real interest.

Raise the Flags

Red flags sort candidates for you.

  • Obvious or glaring mistakes – One or two typos can be excusable under certain circumstances. But cover letters and resumes riddled with errors make your job considerably easier.
  • Applicant calls your company by the wrong name – Duh.
  • Overqualifications – This can be tricky. Every hiring manager salivates at the stud performer with years of experience and a nice, full resume.  But tread carefully. What’s the position and what’s the likelihood of someone staying with your offer for any extended time who’s clearly capable of (and accustomed to) greater things?
  • A resume sent from another employer’s email address- Not a death blow, but it doesn’t bode well in the trust department.

You can follow our advice and quantify the screening process as much as you’d like, but you’ll never remove all the error. However, reducing it will make the difference between a minnow and a shark. Strike the balance between efficiently finding the best match for your company and fairly evaluating the people who will perform.

You may just need a bigger boat.

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