How to optimize your applicant screening process

How to optimize your applicant screening process

Our blog How to optimize your applicant screening process
applicant screening

So, you’ve written your job description, and you’re beginning to attract applications. What comes next? Well, the challenging part: applicant screening. The candidate screening process can be very time-consuming, and if you don't do it right, you'll find yourself wasting time on unqualified applicants. This guide will help you make sure you're only shortlisting the best candidates.

But first... how about a quiz?

What is applicant screening?

Applicant screening is part of the candidate selection process. At this stage, hiring teams evaluate candidates to determine which of them might be a good fit for a job opening.

There are many different factors to consider when it comes to screening candidates, including:

  • Your applicant’s qualifications
  • Whether they are a good cultural fit, and
  • If they have the required hard skills for the job

Traditionally, candidate screening required reading through potentially hundreds of resumes to find candidates that might be a fit. But with the latest technology, there are more efficient alternatives.

Candidate screening the old-fashioned way

The old school approaches to candidate screening are resume screening and phone screening. Each has its drawbacks.

old fashioned applicant screening tools

Resume screening

In the past, manually evaluating each resume was the only way to get an idea of a candidate's qualifications. This used to mean reading over every resume (or at least as many as you had time for). Now, resume screening software can help separate the wheat from the chaff.

Resume screening software looks for keywords that match your job description to determine whether a candidate has the basic requirements needed for the role.

Unfortunately, some candidates resort to tactics like keyword stuffing to game the system. And a resume screening tool only shows that the candidate put the right words in their resume, not that they actually have the skills they listed.

Phone screen interviews

A phone screen typically takes place over the phone. A member of HR calls candidates that seem promising to decide whether or not to invite them for an interview. This call allows the interviewer to dig deeper into the candidate's qualifications to determine whether they should move on to the next stage of the hiring process.

Phone screening has a number of disadvantages. First of all, you have to have someone call every single candidate. And, chances are, they're not an expert in the subject-matter of the role, so it can be difficult for them to know exactly what to ask and how to evaluate the candidate's answers and ask the right follow up questions.

So all you really end up finding out is whether or not they know how to say the right things, not whether they actually have the skills necessary.

Updated approaches to applicant screening

These days there are many tools that claim to help with the applicant screening process. Below, we’ve shared a few of these options for your consideration.

applicant screening tools in 2020

Social media screening

70% of employers use social media to screen applicants as part of their recruitment process to determine if their applicants are a good fit. This involves analyzing an applicant's social media profiles to gain insight into a candidate's aptitude for a role.

But, while it is common, social media screening opens the door to hiring bias and lawsuits.

AI-powered resume screening

Artificial intelligence is everywhere these days, so it's not surprising to find that developers have built tools that leverage AI to screen resumes. The most advanced of these tools use natural language processing (NLP) to analyze resumes and return structured data that is easier to evaluate.

But many of these NLP resume screening tools are based on models trained with far too few data points to be useful. And, just like vintage resume screening, AI resume screening is still limited to what's on the resume. In other words, it can only tell you that the candidate knew what to type when they crafted their resume. It won't show you whether or not they truly have the skills they say they do.

Online skills assessments

So what do you do? Ideal reports that 52% of talent acquisition leaders think resume screening takes a lot of time and that it’s the most challenging part of recruitment. AI resume screening won't help. Social media screening won't help. What's a busy HR pro to do?

If you want to identify the candidates who actually possess the skills you need, online skills assessments are the way to go. With online skills assessments, you can test your candidates on multiple skills with an assessment that takes less than an hour to complete. Then you'll really know who can do the job.

And you'll never have to look at another resume again (unless you want to).

And that's not the only benefit!

Reduces time to hire

Did you know that the average time to hire is 42 days? Or that applicant screening is one of the factors that can increase your time to fill? The best way to reduce your time to fill is to use skills testing.

When you use a skills test near the start of your applicant screening approach, you’re choosing to reduce your time to fill as skills testing helps you filter those applicants who look good on paper but lack the skills for the job. It also means you spend less time screening resumes or interviewing those applicants who are simply expert interviewees.

Helps you avoid bias

Though all HR professionals try to stay entirely objective when screening candidates, unconscious bias can always creep in and influence your decision-making. But with skills tests, you can quantify your candidates' skills and make decisions based on the numbers.

America’s largest companies, including Google and Apple, have implemented skills testing in their recruitment process to ensure their selection is bias-free. It’s beneficial for you and your applicants, letting you base your screening decision on your candidates' results as opposed to your intuition.

Ensures you make sound screening decisions

A study cited by Forbes indicates 90% of firms that test their applicants won’t hire candidates who lack the basic skills. The data and facts you gain from the results of skills tests can significantly influence your hiring decisions. They will back up your candidate screening decisions, can help you make sound hiring decisions, and ensure your candidates have the basic skills required for the job.

Improve the applicant screening process with the right technology

Applicant screening can be a little bit tricky, particularly if you're flooded with resumes due to high volume hiring. But don’t lose your cool. With the right technology, candidate screening is a breeze. So why don't you sign up for a free trial of TestGorilla and see just how easy it can be?

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