Dave Baker, HCAdvisors.net Human Capital Advisors
Human Resource Consulting

The HR Coach Newsletter
The Power of People…Realized

Screening And Interviewing – Part 2
[Posted December 2011]

Screening Applicants and Screening Candidates -- What’s the difference?

You want to screen-out applicants who do not meet your minimum pre-determined criteria. That is, you need an electrical engineer, but five mechanical engineers apply? Screen them out. You want a healthcare administrator with five years industry management experience and a recent college graduate applies? Screen him out.

Pulling unqualified applicants into your list of possibilities because of one attractive trait is a disservice to them in the short-term and to your company in the-long term. If your management team has done their due diligence and truly determined the knowledge, skills and ability required for the position, then bringing under-qualified people into the mix is a bad practice. Don’t waste their time or yours by doing this—you’ll have pain in the end when you have to terminate the bad hire you made. Stick to your plan. The right person is out there for your job. You don’t have to hire a warm body; you don’t have to hire someone by such and such date on the calendar; you need to hire the right person for your company now and tomorrow.

In today’s market, if your ad is clear and you’ve posted it in the proper areas, you should be receiving many fully qualified people. These are the candidates you want to screen-in.

Recently there’s been a trend for corporate recruiters, inundated with resumés, to screen out as many applicants as quickly as they can. While I understand narrowing the pool, chances are high at this juncture that if your recruiter is not thoroughly reviewing resumés and cover letters, you may miss the perfect person.

Anyone can pay a job coach to write their resumé for them and smart applicants do! The cover letter is a unique opportunity for your recruiting staff to get a new bead on the applicant: What’s their style? Do they use proper grammar? Did they write the cover letter specifically to you or is it clearly a template? Have they tied components from your ad into the letter? Trust me; I know people are agonizing over their cover letters to make a good sales pitch to you. Don’t let them get pulled into the black hole of your online database. Read the letters!

This is your first opportunity to make an impression on the candidates eligible for a telephone screening. As a member of the PA Professional Employment Network Board, at weekly networking meetings, I’m hearing the refrain from job searchers: the person who called was rude and made me feel like an idiot. Think about the work you’ve done to brand your company in the employee marketplace. Word of mouth travels faster than ever with today’s technology. A little bad press from one person can steer a whole slew of good people straight from your door.

Just as with an in person interview, your telephone call should be handled professionally, with pre-designed questions and an objective list of screening criteria. Note:

  • Are they articulate and clearly able to communicate ideas?
  • Are they listening to your questions and providing appropriate answers, or do they talk too much and give disjointed responses?
  • Do they ask you follow-up questions?

Use these questions to determine if the person is truly engaged in the interview process with you; this will help determine whether or not to bring that candidate in for an interview.


Author: Rose M Griffith, SPHR, is an HR consultant with David J. Baker, SPHR. Dave is the founder of the Pittsburgh Human Resources firm Human Capital Advisors (www.hcadvisors.net) and the co-author of The Everything HR Kit. 


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