Hire Smarter: 5 Tips to Screen Candidates & Interview Only the Best

According to CareerBuilder’s 2017 jobs forecast, 40% of employers plan to hire permanent, full-time employees this year.

Whether you’re in the midst of an all-out hiring spree or simply need to replace a retiring veteran, you’ll want to make your search as efficient as possible. That starts with an effective candidate screening process that sharply winnows your pool of potentials and ensures only the finest prospects earn face time with you or your HR team. Here’s how it’s done.

5 Tips to Screen Candidates & Interview Only the Best

Hire Smarter: 5 Tips to Screen Candidates & Interview Only the Best: eAskme
Hire Smarter: 5 Tips to Screen Candidates & Interview Only the Best: eAskme

1. Use Applicant Tracking Software

You probably use electronic employment applications already. Why not upgrade to a comprehensive applicant tracking system with dashboard-based reporting and workflow management capabilities? These systems make it much easier to screen out candidates that that don't meet minimum requirements for the position, such as years of relevant experience or educational attainment.

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“Using technology to standardize your applicant screening processes saves your team a lot of time,” says George Otte, Miami-based entrepreneur and chairman of Otte Polo Group. “In turn, that frees up resources for vetting and interviewing promising candidates.”

2. Check Candidates’ Social Media Profiles for Red Flags

Candidates’ social media profiles say a lot about their opinions, priorities, personal routines, and work ethic. You’d be remiss not to check them for potential red flags, for example, maturity or emotional intelligence. You can also use social media to find high-potential candidates outside the traditional job board environment, says Shanil Kalderali of Pierpoint International.

3. Use Pre-Screening Phone Interviews for Borderline Candidates

Once you’ve screened out unsuitable candidates and used social media research to further winnow your pool, pre-screen remaining candidates via quick phone interviews. These interviews are great for catching borderline candidates who just narrowly slipped through in the early going. The phone interview is also an important first step in determining candidate fit, though it’s probably risky to make firm conclusions on the basis of a single call.

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4. Verify Candidate Statements and CVs

Before bringing candidates in for an in-person review, look into every verifiable statement they’ve made in their cover letters, CVs, and applications. This means calling past employers, alma maters, and personal references. If anything seems amiss — even a relatively innocuous point, such as an inaccurate start date — you’ll want to proceed with caution.

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5. Assign Pre-Interview Homework

Pre-interview homework is a great tool for honestly assess candidates’ strategic thinking abilities — and for determining just how far a candidate is willing to go to land the job. The best homework assignments are miniature exercises that mirror projects or decision points candidates would likely face on the job. Structure them such that candidates must provide a window into their thinking during and after the exercise. If they make it to the interview, take the opportunity to debrief: ask them why they did what they did, when.

By using these screening tips, you’re better positioned to make smarter hiring decisions and save your HR team time in the process.