sorting applications

Sifting – or screening – the candidates should leave a shortlist to invite for interview. All of these candidates should meet essential, and most should meet desired, criteria. If you have fewer than, say, four candidates to interview, consider if you have more people who could fit the role with the benefit of training. If you have more than eight candidates, think hard about those who may not fit the company culture.

telephone screening

A relatively inexpensive way to carry out an initial sifting process, particularly suitable for vacancies with a high proportion of telephone work or customer service. Telephone screening may rule out any bias, for example regarding a candidate’s appearance. It also begins the process of developing a relationship with the candidate before interview. However, it should not be a replacement for a face-to-face interview following the sift.

online screening

Often using a questionnaire, online screening is used to score applicants on pre-selected criteria, such as levels of literacy or numeracy, rejecting those who do not reach the required level. Online psychometric tests can measure behavioural or personality aspects to provide insights into candidate match with the job and organisation culture not available via CVs or interviews (see also ‘psychometric and other tests’ in chapter 4).

Screening based on social media is generally not considered good practice and should be approached with great care. The majority of candidates consider Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as social or ‘personal’, whereas LinkedIn is considered to be more ‘professional’ and therefore better suited for use in recruiting. However, do candidates expect prospective employers to check out their online profile? If not, as a recruiter you may damage your organisation’s reputation and may even violate data protection regulations.

cv screening

CV-matching software searches CVs for keywords – such as leadership – while CV parsing software can also convert CVs into structured information, matching them with skills profiles, job and person specifications. While a good CV will include all the relevant keywords, be aware that clued-up, but perhaps less suitable candidates, are equally likely to know about sought-after keywords and create CVs accordingly. 

blind CVs

The use of ‘blind’ CVs (or application forms), which cover up certain information to counter potential recruiter bias – towards educational background, for instance – are becoming more commonplace. However, it is only a first step towards creating a more diverse workplace. To be completely successful, recruiters should be trained to challenge any deep-held beliefs at all stages of the recruitment process.

PwC’s head of people explains: “As a progressive employer we recognise that talent and potential presents itself in different ways and at different stages in people’s lives. Removing the [university entry] criteria will create a fairer and more modern system in which students are selected on their own merit, irrespective of their background or where they are from.” Read also ‘diversity and inclusion’ in chapter 14.

competency profiling

A process of matching candidates to the profile of your most competent employee, identifying specific skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours. This can be the first stage in selection, followed by an interview or assessment.



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