How can I screen job applications effectively?

How can I screen job applications effectively?

When you post a job advert you're hoping to find the perfect candidate that matches your exact requirements. But whether you get a response of 20 or 20,000 CVs, you need to know how to effectively evaluate every application.

Determining your criteria
The applications you have received will all be unique. Even if you've asked candidates to fill in an application form rather than provide a CV, they will still interpret certain questions in different ways. Therefore it's important to highlight the key things that you should be looking for so you can quickly evaluate all applications on a level playing field.

If you've created an effective job description you should have the basis for the criteria which you will mark all candidates against. The number of criteria you use will vary with the complexity of the role being advertised, but you should aim to set around ten clear conditions.

These can usually be split into three sections:

  • Technical – Does the candidate have the necessary education in order to succeed in the role or do they have certificates relating to relevant computer software?
  • Experience – Have they worked in a similar industry before or have they shown a history of success when managing similar budgets?
  • Personal – Have they displayed examples of when they have used their communication skills or their creativity in a business scenario?

Once you have a good idea of what you're looking for, take a quick scan through each CV and discard any that clearly aren't going to cut the mustard. The more applications you have received, the more ruthless you can afford to be.

Developing a screening chart
To make it easier for you to judge every application on an even keel, you should create a grid where you can mark out which candidates meet which criteria. Either electronically or using good old pen and paper, put the names across the top, the criteria down the side and then go through each CV putting a score out of 5 by each.

For example, if your role requires a candidate to have a degree in History, you may use the following scores:

  1. No degree or a degree in a unrelated subject
  2. Degree in a related subject or a 3rd in History
  3. 2:2 or 2:1 in History
  4. 1st in History
  5. History Masters Degree

Once you've been through every CV and marked down all the scores, add up each column and you will be able to quickly see which candidates best meet your needs.

You can get as detailed and as complex as you like with your chart. If there are certain elements that you are looking for that are much more important to the role than others, you could mark those out of 10 so higher scores are better represented when you tally the scores up at the end.

If time and resources allow, you should look to have this process completed by both someone within the HR team (who has recruitment experience) and the manager of the department that is hiring. You could also look to involve people within your company who have done a similar role before, or even someone with very little knowledge of the position to see how they view the CVs without any pre-conceived bias.

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