Candidate Screening: What is it and How to Do It Right

Candidate screening

So you’ve advertised your job role successfully, received an influx of applications, and are ready to move to the next stage. What do you do now? Screen those candidates to see who you want to progress to the next stage!

Candidate screening is a vital part of the hiring process, used to evaluate job applications for a role, and designed to filter out those candidates who are well qualified, suitably matched and ready for interview. In this blog, we’ll look closely at candidate screening and consider ways to do it well, look at the value of AI and consider which tools can add value to this crucial part of the recruitment process.

What is candidate screening?

Candidate screening aims to streamline the hiring process, to make sure the best-matched candidates are selected to attend an interview and progress through the recruitment process. The process is usually managed by the hiring team after job applications and CVs have been received for an advertised job role, and will involve delivering a series of planned steps to assess each candidate and decide whether they should progress to interview.

Why is candidate screening so important?

Candidate screening is a vital stage to get right, as an optimised screening process will ensure the best possible candidates are selected for interview, to maximise the chances of a successful hire at the end of the recruitment process. If the screening process is poor, a potentially good candidate might be filtered out of the interview shortlist and never meet the hiring manager. Equally, an overly relaxed candidate screening process might result in too many unsuitable candidates being invited to progress to interview, which wastes time and money for the business.

What are the main benefits of a good candidate screening process?

The main benefits of a good candidate screening process are:

  1. A faster time to hire, which allows you to focus resources and efforts on the most qualified candidates.
  2. Less employer turnover, by only hiring candidates genuinely suited to the advertised role.
  3. Better cultural fit, because screening allows you to select candidates that will fit with your company culture and existing team.
  4. Fewer disruptions, by implementing technology that automates the process as much as possible, to keep staff working on higher-value activities that require human input. For example, good candidate screening helps to reduce the number of interviews that will need to be delivered for a role, saving time and money, and keeping operational managers focused on their day-to-day jobs.

Candidate screening process

Every business will follow its own candidate screening process, but most will include the steps listed below. With modern technology solutions, such as ATS software, these processes can be delivered in a fast, efficient and integrated way which saves the business time and money, improves hiring outcomes and – ideally – improves the candidate experience and supports the employer brand by providing a positive experience.

Review applications

The hiring manager will review CVs and cover letters with application documentation to see whether each candidate has the right qualifications, skills, experience and education, as required by the job description. This must be done consistently, according to defined criteria. An applicant tracking system can speed up the process, remove unconscious bias, and minimise errors.

Use a skills assessment or test

Some businesses will use tests or assessments for certain technical roles to assess each candidate’s ability to deliver on the job. This could also include personality assessments and tests for cognitive abilities, as well as assessment of technical skills. For some roles, the process may even include a full assessment centre with an array of tasks, tests and group assessments to understand each candidate’s abilities and traits under pressure.

Schedule a telephone interview

Many businesses will arrange a short telephone interview (or online screening interview by Zoom or recruitment software hosting) for an initial conversation to assess each individual’s understanding of the role, general enthusiasm, communication skills and likely cultural fit.

Carry out in-person interviews

If a candidate is successful in the first-stage interview, he or she may be invited to an in-person interview with the hiring manager and, potentially, a member of the HR team. The interview process will allow the hiring manager to understand more about the candidate’s background, experience, qualifications and fit for the role and team. The interview may include situational questions to understand more about the candidate’s abilities with decision-making, problem-solving and interpersonal skills.

Deliver background checking

This will span everything from verifying work history to any potential criminal record, depending on the role. Businesses will often also check social media profiles. These checks ensure that candidates are providing full and accurate information.

Complete reference checks

The HR department or recruitment function will follow up on candidate references to check that everything is accurate. Sometimes this may include a conversation with previous employers to gain insight into the candidate’s performance history, interpersonal skills, reliability and general background. Some businesses will only provide factual dates of employment.

What is candidate screening

Some useful strategies for screening candidates

The steps described above will help to ensure a business has a comprehensive candidate screening process as part of the overall recruitment function. However, these additional strategies can add further value:

  1. Clearly define job requirements – including experience, qualifications and skills – to ensure careful and precise matching against candidate applications.
  2. Use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or AI-driven system to help sort, filter, assess and track candidates swiftly and accurately.
  3. Ensure standardisation is in place for CV and application reviews, so that consistent decisions can be made on which candidates to progress to the next stage and which to reject.
  4. Embrace diversity and inclusion to ensure the business seeks candidates from a diverse array of backgrounds. This means ensuring the screening process is free from bias and inclusive.
  5. Make use of ATS technologies to streamline the process and keep it free from delays. Invest in fast, effective communications with each candidate so that they are kept up to date and to ensure your employer brand is viewed as positively as possible. This is vital because the best talent will invariably have other options to pursue!

How to use AI in candidate screening

The use of AI for candidate screening has several potential benefits. For example:

  • AI-driven candidate screening can remove unconscious bias from the process and deliver better, more diverse outcomes, supporting an inclusive hiring strategy
  • AI tools are fast, efficient, accurate and ideal for matching good-fit applicants to defined attributes – streamlining the entire process whilst removing human error
  • AI provides valuable management information to the business
  • AI is also cost-effective and removes the need for expensive human-led tasks.

AI tools can be used in a variety of ways for candidate screening, depending on the existing level of technological sophistication within the business, and the desire to invest in tech-led solutions. For example:

  • ATS systems can filter applications and automate vital tasks in the recruitment process overall, such as communications management.
  • Chatbots can be used to collect basic candidate information and answer questions.
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP) can be applied to CV and cover letter assessments.
  • AI can be used to deliver online skills assessments.
  • Video platforms can be used to deliver remote interviews.

Candidate screening software and tools

At Teamdash, we’re proud to provide recruitment software that helps businesses get the most from their recruitment function – including smooth and optimized candidate screening. Our automated candidate screening software ensures that processes for screening candidates are delivered in a consistent, efficient way that keeps your business compliant and delivers the best possible outcomes. Teamdash is slick, intuitive and extremely powerful – and it’s very quick to integrate into your business for measurable returns. Keen to find out more? Get in touch with our friendly team today for a free demo!

Marie Evart

Co-founder & Community Manager

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