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The Secret to Hiring Success: A Comprehensive Guide to Applicant Screening

  • By Kamlesh Ranjan
  • June 25, 2024
  • 5 mins read
applicant screening
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    Applicant screening involves thoroughly checking candidates’ information and backgrounds before hiring. Given the shortage of skilled candidates, is it good to be so selective? What does the applicant screening process involve? In this article, I will discuss this process.

    The number of unfilled positions and the average time to fill a position are at an all-time high. For skilled workers, vacancies of four to six months are expected. While the market is empty in many industries, specialist departments are pressuring HR to achieve quick recruitment success.

    Also Read: 9 Powerful Tips For Candidate Screening You Must Know About

    What is Applicant Screening and Why is it Crucial?

    This pressure increases the temptation to sacrifice quality for speed and hire a candidate who only roughly fits the job description. This solution promises short-term relief at best. Experience shows that unsuitable employees quickly leave because they don’t meet the requirements or don’t fit the team. Even worse, they stay, becoming less productive, straining the work atmosphere, and damaging the company.

    Promising candidates are in short supply, which is precisely why rigorous applicant screening is so important. What does it mean? Applicant screening involves verifying applicants and their information before hiring them. This process can occur during the selection process, after the first interview, or before signing a contract. Applicant screening is also known as a pre-employment check or background check.

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    What Does Applicant Screening Involve?

    Applicant screening essentially pursues three goals:

    Verify whether candidates have provided truthful information about their previous degrees, professional careers, and qualifications. Check whether the candidate is professionally and personally suited to a particular position and whether they will fit into the corporate culture. Avoid hiring employees who harm the company, for example, by bullying colleagues or engaging in criminal activities such as data theft or corruption. Such so-called “toxic” employees are often difficult to recognize at first glance, as they appear very promising.

    5 Ways to Screen Applicants Effectively

    Comprehensive applicant screening and background checks are widespread. Applicant screening does not mean Googling applicants and evaluating all available data, from vacation photos to forum comments. It also does not mean peeping into the applicants’ personal lives and judging whether their weekend activities and political opinions match your human resources manager’s or employer’s criteria. This grasp of selection is a dangerous path to take as it involves going against the law and excluding great candidates for reasons that are irrelevant to their job suitability. If you want to screen applicants legally, here are five ways you can do so:

    Also Read: Your Key to Success: A Guide to Writing and Requesting Letters of Recommendation

    Check the Accuracy of Documents and Information: 

    Verify that the resume information is correct and all submitted documents are authentic. For example, you can compare whether the information in all documents matches consistently and whether there is any conflicting data. You can also use professional profiles on platforms such as LinkedIn for comparison. Ask the applicant for essential documents such as diplomas and certificates.

    Online Research: 

    Find out more about the applicant by searching for publicly available information on the internet. You can check online job boards, magazines, or the applicant’s website. Confirm if the applicant has any educational qualifications, awards, reputation, or previous projects undertaken. For sensitive positions such as social work, education, finance, security, and leadership roles in companies like oil companies, it is acceptable to request personal information that would help understand the candidate’s character and views. In any case, you should first ask the candidate for consent to such a review. Information from protected social networks such as Facebook cannot be used explicitly for professional purposes.

    Talking to Former Employers and References: 

    Talking to former employers can be very informative – your direct manager is usually the right person to contact. You learn more about candidates’ qualifications, especially their soft skills, motivation, and potential. Such conversations help you really assess whether the candidate is a good fit for the company, both professionally and personally. Ask the candidate for permission to contact their previous employers. You can also ask for a list of other references you can interview.

    Also Read: Discussing Weakness Of Person In Interview: Strategies And Tips

    Information from Authorities or Service Providers: 

    Depending on the industry and field of activity, applicants may need to provide a police clearance certificate or a health certificate for positions where the employee manages large amounts of funds or has a high level of responsibility, such as a CTO or CFO.

    Independent Tests and Assessment Centers: 

    An assessment center won’t consider you as part of their screening process. However, it’s an excellent opportunity to see if you have the qualifications you listed in your application and that your drive and personality are a good fit for the company. In specific industries, companies conduct their own medical and drug tests. Psychological tests are famous in the USA but uncommon in other countries.

    Building a Collaborative Approach to Applicant Screening

    When screening applicants, you are working in a confidential environment. You must respect their data protection and personal rights. On the other hand, it also concerns your employer image: Who wants to work for a company that peeks into employees’ private lives without being asked? Therefore, pay attention to the following:

    • Inform applicants that you are conducting a screening process. Describe in detail the data you will collect and obtain their written consent.
    • Document all processes, for example, with a digital personnel file, so that you can prove that the data has been handled correctly.
    • Store personal data only in a secure environment, ideally in data protection-compliant HR software.
    • Only evaluate data relevant to assessing the candidate’s professional suitability. With a few exceptions, private life is taboo and should not be involved.
    • Always allow candidates to comment on negative screening results. This is a matter of respect. Information may be wrong, or out of date, or you may need to have all the facts. Having a clear conversation can help you avoid losing a good employee due to poor judgment.

    Key Takeaways: Optimizing Your Applicant Screening Process for Success

    Also Read: Essential Guide to In Person Interview Questions

    Applicant screening takes time, ties up resources, and lengthens the hiring process. However, doing without it is not the solution. Instead, you need to make the screening process as efficient as possible. This means they check only the criteria relevant to assessing the applicant for the position—as little as necessary. The criteria are checked by your colleagues who know the requirements best and can best evaluate them.

    Ideally, you should have a standard requirements profile prepared in advance. It is best to use electronic recruiting software with freely definable display options to make sharing the document as easy as possible. Standardized methods can be an integral part of your recruitment strategy, and you can measure the results and continuously optimize the process. This requires good cooperation with the various departments. Plan your staffing needs early on.

    Define your expectations and requirements for new hires, as well as the selection criteria, together. Then involve department heads in the applicant review process. Get regular feedback and work together to improve. Through trusted collaboration in applicant selection, you will not only enhance the quality of your new hires.

    The better your departments understand and value your processes and focused work, the more likely you will be able to apply resources and budget to HR. All this shows how important it is to find the best possible employees. At the same time, it also relieves the pressure to recruit new employees quickly. Quality takes time. This fact is also known in the professional sector.

    Also Read: The In-Person Interview Guide: From Welcome to Goodbye

    Conclusion

    In today’s competitive job market, screening applicants thoroughly is more important than ever. This helps ensure you hire the right people who are qualified, a cultural fit, and will not negatively impact your business. By following legal and ethical practices and working with each department, you can build a vigorous selection process that attracts and retains the best talent. Quality takes time, and investing in the right people will benefit your business in the long run.

    BarRaiser is the best AI interview platform that features structured interviewsAI-generated interview notesinterviewer training, and tools to ensure quality hiring while eliminating biases from the recruitment process. With BarRaiser’s support, you’ll be well-equipped to build a strong team of sales associates who will drive sales and deliver exceptional customer service.

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