Why Is Candidate Screening Important

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Why Is Candidate Screening Important

As the world rapidly shifts toward artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and automation, recruiters and hiring managers are faced with the challenge of finding qualified candidates who can keep up with the speed of innovation, while also leaving a positive impact on their team and the organization's culture. Candidate screening is a critical component of making this possible.

In this article, we will cover why candidate screening is important, some of the challenges you'll face in today's recruiting environment, and the tools and screening questions you can use to find top talent and put them in the right place within your organization. We'll also highlight some trends that can give you a competitive edge in recruitment.

Before we dive into the content, let's define different aspects of the interview process so that you have an overall idea of how they fit into a recruitment process.

Candidate Sourcing and Screening

There's so much content around the topic of hiring available online today that we often blend different phases of the hiring process into one overarching ecosystem and wonder why we're not getting ideal results. This brings up the question of what the screening process is in recruitment. The candidate sourcing and screening phase is the first step of an effective hiring system. Often AI sourcing tools like HireEZ will match skills from your job description to resumes that best fit the role. Then, these hiring tools will "tee up" a screening conversation between the candidate and HR to cover initial formalities. Topics like experience, culture fit, and compensation expectations are discussed in this conversation, and if all goes well, this person will move from the screening to the interview phase.

Why is candidate screening important in HR?

First of all, screening is a real-world assessment of how the candidate's skills and experience will fit into your organization. This conversation will not only set the tone of the hiring process but will also focus your efforts on the most qualified candidates by "exiting" those who aren't a great fit for the process. Next, the screening process helps streamline all subsequent stages of hiring. This step allows the candidate and HR to ask questions, assess fit, and talk about expectations from both sides making the whole process flow a bit smoother.

We see this question asked constantly online in forums and other hiring resources - so let's cover it before we move on, "What is the screening process in interviews?" Well, the short answer is these are two different aspects of a complete hiring ecosystem. The screening phase is step #1, and interviews follow. Separating the two will allow you to complete the right steps at the right time.

Running an effective and efficient screening process requires a few basic tools:

  1. Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
  2. Interview Intelligence Software
  3. Interview Scheduling Software.

These three tools combined will allow you to automate and streamline the screening process, allowing you to focus on finding the best-fit candidates for your organization. An ATS will help you track applicants, store candidate information, and manage the entire hiring process. Interview intelligence software can help you analyze candidate responses, while interview scheduling software can make setting up interviews a breeze.

Necessity Of Candidate Screening In HRM

We started off by answering the question, "Why is candidate screening important in HR interviews?" Now let's do a deep dive on the necessity of candidate screening in HRM. How it simplifies employee relationships and gets a team off on the right foot.

Filling the applicant funnel is an integral component of successful hiring, yet it often proves to be the most challenging aspect of the process. Digital sourcing solutions like HireEZ can make this step much easier. When connected to an ATS, this step can be done in an (almost) automated way. This solves one of the biggest challenges that recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers face - "filling" the applicant pool.

Once you have a "full" pool, the screenings can begin. As we briefly touched on in the first section, screenings have been blended into the interview process, but that defeats the entire purpose of screening- and that brings us to the topic at hand, the impact of candidate screening on interviews.

If you think about organizational culture as a garden that you need to fertilize, nurture, and attend to produce the best results, the screening process would be the equivalent of soil preparation, weeding, and plant choice. In a garden, certain plants grow well together, others don't. Certain plants need lots of light, whereas others will wither in the direct sunlight. Therefore, in a garden, you need careful selection of soil, meticulous planting, seed placement, and nurturing to set the groundwork for healthy growth.

Similarly, an initial screening lays the foundation for a potential candidate's journey within the company ecosystem. During this phase, their experience, cultural fit, and expectations are thoroughly explored and matched to the role's requirements, ensuring the "soil" is right for their potential growth. Just like a gardener's efforts lead to the growth of a thriving garden, the screening ensures that the most promising candidates are nurtured, prepped, and ready to blossom (ie. prepared) for the interview process and a future in your company. This also means the screening process filters out unsuitable candidates who are not a great fit.

Outline of a Candidate Screening Call

A well-structured candidate screening call ensures that both the candidate and the hiring team have a clear understanding of the role, expectations, hiring criteria, and requirements. Here's an outline to guide you through an effective screening call:

  1. Introduction and Icebreaker
  • Briefly introduce yourself and your role in the company.
  • Provide a short overview of the company and its culture.
  • Start with a light conversation to make the candidate feel comfortable.
  1. Role Overview
  • Explain the job title, department, and reporting structure.
  • Describe key responsibilities and expectations for the role.
  • Highlight critical skills and experiences required.
  1. Candidate Background
  • Ask the candidate to provide an overview of their professional background.
  • Discuss their most recent job and responsibilities.
  • Explore their achievements and any standout projects.
  1. Skills and Experience Alignment
  • Ask specific questions to ascertain the candidate's skills and experience relevant to the position.
  • Discuss any technical or specialized skills needed for the role.
  • Inquire about their familiarity with any tools or software used by your organization.
  1. Cultural Fit and Work Style
  • Assess how the candidate's values and work style align with the company culture.
  • Ask about their preferred work environment and team collaboration style.
  • Discuss how they handle stress and conflict in the workplace.
  1. Availability and Salary Expectations
  • Confirm the candidate's availability to start if offered the position.
  • Discuss their salary expectations and whether they align with your budget.
  • Inquire about any other benefits or work-life balance considerations.
  1. Next Steps and Questions
  • Provide an overview of the next steps in the hiring process.
  • Inform the candidate about the timeline for follow-up.
  • Open the floor for any questions the candidate might have about the role, team, or company.
  1. Wrap-up
  • Thank the candidate for their time.
  • Reiterate your enthusiasm about potentially working together.
  • Confirm the best way to contact them for further communication.

If you'd like a customized version of this for your new screening, click here to create your own comprehensive guide. You'll be prompted to paste your job description into the text field and in a few minutes you'll be emailed a complete guide - which shortens interview prep and allows you to run an effective structured screening process.

Candidate Screening Questions

Now that you have a screening guide, let's turn to the next part of the process - the results of your candidate screens and why shortlisting is important to focus your attention on the right candidates. Candidate screening questions are like stoplights in the hiring process. A candidate will quickly indicate whether they're “red,” “yellow,” or “green” in each area of your hiring criteria. The best hiring decisions are made when you identify your "greens'' and move them to the top of your priority list. That is where shortlisting comes in.

Shortlisting involves selecting a smaller pool of candidates from the larger applicant pool that has met the initial screening criteria. This process narrows down the applicants to those who are most qualified for the job, saving time and resources in the long run. Shortlisting will allow recruiters, hiring managers,  and HR to allocate resources to the most qualified candidates leading to more efficient and effective interviews.

The relevance of candidate screening across different fields, industries, and roles will change mostly based on the level of technical skill needed to perform at the highest level. For instance, if you're hiring senior software engineers, you may need to have follow-up calls with candidates who require more technical evaluation. However, if you're hiring for customer service roles, a simple screening call can help identify the most qualified and personable candidates immediately.

GEICO Insurance Company is a great example of this. Their screening process takes half a day (for candidates) and at each step, they qualify the candidate on technology, sales conversations, objection handling, and mock calls before they even meet with a recruiter or hiring manager. By the time they get to what most companies consider to be the first interview, they're fully qualified and now the only thing to assess is culture fit.

This is where interview intelligence software software can make a huge impact. Having a platform that gathers interview insights through the screening and interview process, assessing candidates' skills in a fair and objective way, and creating structured interview questions can help eliminate unconscious bias and ensure that the best-qualified candidates make it to the final stage.

In conclusion, an effective candidate screening process will save you time, and money, and protect the culture of your company. While there are different tools, training, processes, and frameworks that you can implement to get better results, a well-planned screening process is the first step to helping your company build strong, skilled teams that align with your values and drive long-term success.

If you'd like to see how interview intelligence can drive better hiring decisions, book a demo of Pillar today, or chat with someone from our team to learn more.