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The screening process is essential to any

successful recruitment campaign, yet many

businesses fail to get it right.

Being able to shortlist your candidates effectively will always put you at an advantage, especially when dealing with large numbers of applications. In fact, without a thorough screening process, you may find that a lot of interest in a vacancy can be just as problematic as none at all.

Our 6-step screening guide will fill you in on how to sift through the volumes of applications most effectively and efficiently, to ensure you find an individual that’s the perfect fit for your role and company.

1) Use your job description

Taking the time to ensure your job description is detailed and accurate won’t just help at the advertising stage, it can play a valuable part in the screening process too. Job descriptions form a crucial checklist to mark all applicants against. By highlighting important criteria right at the start, you can be sure that any candidates making it to the next stage all have the appropriate levels of experience and qualifications, along with the desired abilities and qualities for the job.

2) Communicate the process with your applicants

The screening process can take time, especially if you have a lot of job applications, and particularly when you want to make sure you’re getting it right – recognise this, and keep your candidates informed along the way. If you’ve received an unprecedented number of applications, let each candidate know that they are under consideration but the process may take longer than first expected. Be forthcoming with information and don’t wait for applicants to ask you for more details; the better your communication, the more likely the successful candidate is to accept the job.

3) Look for extra details

Creating a set of criteria and questions to mark each applicant against is important, but so too is looking for additional qualities that can help you decide whether a candidate will be a good fit for your company. With every stage of the screening process, be it over email, telephone or face-to-face interview, make note of the way your applicants behave – consider attitude, communication, and their ability to think on their feet, for example. These elements will often prove to be just as representative, if not more so, than any CV.

4) Ask the right interview questions

The interview offers the perfect opportunity to get to know your shortlisted candidates that much better, but only if the right questions get asked. Before any interview, prepare a list of questions that will help you find out whether someone has the experience, ability and potential to carry out the role well…and don’t be afraid to go off-script if the opportunity arises. Depending on what an individual has to say, you may find a whole raft of new questions are opened up – this can offer an even better insight into the applicant, but only if the conversation remains relevant to the role.

5) Make notes

Sometimes it’s hard to make notes during an interview or telephone conversation, and indeed it can prove off-putting and stem the flow of the conversation. However, if you have a lot of applicants to consider, notes are invaluable. You don’t have to make notes during an interview but if not, make them immediately afterwards – your favourite candidates may differ to those of a colleague, and no doubt some discussion will be required afterwards, particularly when recruiting for a senior role. Notes will help you remember not just which candidates impressed, but why they impressed.

6) Don’t be afraid to be ruthless

Choosing whether to accept or reject an application isn’t always easy, and indeed it gets harder the further you progress in the hiring process. Remember, any rejection isn’t personal and it’s made in the best interests of your company, your staff, and the candidate – if you’re not able to reduce your applicant numbers at every stage, your shortlisting simply isn’t working. Trust in your screening process; the more care you have taken in preparation, the more confidence you will have in the system to find you the right candidate for the job.

Of course, the most efficient way to screen your candidates is to have someone else take care of the initial laborious and time-consuming work for you. If you are under pressure to fill a vacancy quickly, have been inundated with an unprecedented number of applications, or need extra support and guidance with your recruitment, Stuart Maxwell Recruitment can help – just get in touch with us to discuss your requirements, we’d be very happy to help.