3 Tips for Screening Candidates

August 3, 2009 — 2,868 views  
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Sorting Candidates

In a slow job market, anyone who posts a job opening these days is sure to get swamped with resumes. I've heard stories of 500 resumes for a single customer service opening or receptionist position.

So when you are swamped like that, how do your sort them to find the top 3-4 candidates without spending weeks reading each of them? Remember if you are more than 50 employees or do government contracting you have to comply with EEOC hiring practices, so you have to show your hiring is not discriminatory and give everyone and equal opportunity. Truth is there is not easy way to do this but there are a few tips to make the process quicker and more effective.

Over at Staffing Recruiting Essential, they talk about a 3 step process for sorting candidates to hire. They are review resumes, phone screen and final sort. Here's an overview of each step;

The Resume Review

The process of reviewing resumes is often the most tedious and laborious so, to shorten the process, you need to become an expert at scanning. This means looking for simple easy to read layout. Don't spend too much time figuring out what is meant in a resume. As a rule of thumb, f the candidate can not simply communicate their work history, how good would the be at communicating on the job as your employee. Look for the keywords and if they seem to be there go ahead and read the resume. Focus on the last 2-3 jobs or last 5-7 years of the career.

Next, look for red flags like, job hopping, gaps in employment and backward steps in a career, e.g. going from a VP to a clerk. Look for growth in responsibilities and advancement in their career. Look for not only what is there but what is missing, for instance a clue is the use of years without months in the job history.

The Phone Screen

Once you have found 7-10 resumes, you need to call each candidate. In some cases this may seem like an extra step but it is an important part of the process.You can learn a lot about a candidate such as, communication skills, promptness of response and how they deal with an impromptu situation.

You need to make a minimum of one phone call. Even if you get a voice message you can learn how they communicate in their message. If they are a serious candidate it will be a serious message. You can see if they return their calls promptly. Take the step to make the calls and it will make the next step much simpler and straight forward.

The Sorting Process

The last step is to take the top 3-5 candidates to the hiring manager and see which you want to bring in for an interview. If you start with 7-10 candidates in the phone screen, that means eliminating candidates. If you don't have the luxury of getting a second opinion, use some of the supporting documentation that sometimes comes with a resume, like cover letters and letters of reference. Does this supplemental information support the candidate? Are they well written? Do the letters of reference originate from a supervisor or peer?

Final Thought

Though there are no shortcuts to sorting candidates, these tips will help you be more effective in your selections and help you find the best talent to fill your positions.

About the Author

Engineer, entrepreneur, web editor, recruiter and businessman, Tom shares insights into these and other worldly topics. For more visit the Staffing Recruiting Essential web site.