Hiring Wisdom: Do You Screen Applicants In or Out?

Illustration by istockphoto.com
Illustration by istockphoto.com

Most interviewers start the screening process when they already have a number of applications or resumes on hand, and first look for reasons to eliminate those who don’t seem suitable to whittle the stack down to a manageable number of people to contact.

This approach is only efficient though if the person (or process) responsible for the sort truly understands the position and if there is a realistic list of the minimum requirements, capacities and skills truly needed to do the job. (Note: These are the only three qualifications that can be considered in this preliminary screen. You cannot evaluate attitude, personality, or talent based on an application or resume.)

An objective process leads to best decisions

For instance, say a college degree is a minimum requirement because completing college means the person stuck with it, achieved a goal, and has a solid academic background. If the job could be done without a degree (as many can), you have automatically ruled out all the people who don’t have a degree, but do have tons of experience and a history promotions and pay raises. In other words the proven go-getters.

If the situation is reversed and there are a limited number of candidates, most managers begin by looking for the reasons the candidate fits the job.

In either case, what you really need to do is both.

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If you’ve screened someone in, look for any reasons why you shouldn’t hire the person. If you’ve screened someone out, look for the reasons it might be a good idea to hire them. Then, in interviews, ask tough questions of the ones on your “in” list and start by asking easier questions of the ones who were on your “out” list whom you’ve reconsidered.

The more objective your screening process, the more likely it is you’ll make the best possible hiring decisions and that make everyone happier and more productive.

This was originally published on Mel Kleiman’s Humetrics blog.

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at mkleiman@humetrics.com.

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