Whether you are a high-level executive, or a dedicated HR person one of your main responsibilities will be choosing the right people to hire. (At your respective level of course ― obviously, c-level executives in large companies are usually not involved with everyday hiring decisions that concern lower level staff. But I digress…).
Being able to screen and choose the right candidates is a major factor in a company’s success, up there with focus, logistics and having a good grasp of where the market is going. A company, after all, is its people.
The basics of screening
The term “screening” doesn’t refer to the kind of screen that you are reading this on, but rather to the much older kind of screen that sports a mesh and is used as a sieve.
Similar to how such a screen helps block and filter out any unwanted elements (e.g. tea leaves), the right candidate screening process helps you to quickly disqualify applicants that are not a good fit for your company, leaving you with just the best candidates for a given position.
Screening is not the same thing as interviewing people for a job. It’s what comes before — the process that helps your HR department narrow down hundreds of applications to just the dozen or so best ones that deserve to pass to the next stage. In other words, the role of screening is to save you time.
False negatives and false positives
Like everything else that involves people, candidate screening, even when done with the utmost thoroughness and the best possible candidate screening tools, is not 100% perfect.
As with most filtering processes, there are two kinds of errors that might occur. Scientists call those false positives and false negatives.
A false positive is mistaking a bad candidate for a good for a good candidate.
A false negative, similarly, is rejecting a candidate that is actually good.
You can protect your company against false positives by adding additional stages before the final hiring decision. This is where further testing, hiring interviews, and even internship periods come in.
As for false negatives, the main way to ensure that you are not missing out on any good candidates is to have an extensive candidate screening process that takes several different factors into consideration.
All in all, though, candidate screening is not about being 100% right all of the time, but about finding the best candidates in a faster and more efficient way than manually going through all of them in depth.
Candidate screening essentials
So what would a candidate screening process entail?
There’s no single right answer to this, as it all depends on your industry and the kind of positions that you want to fill. Obviously, if you look for your next regional sales manager or IT head the screening process would be different than if you’re just looking for customer support positions or literal burger flippers.
One thing that makes a big difference regarding how your screening process should be is whether you expect candidates to come with a specific set of skills and qualifications, or whether you just want unskilled workers that can learn “on the job”.
For positions dealing with customers, or similar sensitive roles and responsibilities, especially those that require soft skills, you might want to include a pre-employment personality test to your screening process.
In fact, this might be a good practice when screening for any kind of position — to help rule out non-agreeable personalities, people that don’t make for good team players, have bad people skills or can’t operate under pressure.
That kind of pre-employment tests is common in several industries, including the military and police, the hospitality industry, and the medical profession.
Such a test can be based on one of several popular personality tests, and expand on it with the job and industry-specific pre-employment screening questions.
After that, you will usually have your candidates take a pre-employment assessment test, meant to check their knowledge and skills (or lack thereof) that pertain to the job they are applying for.
Depending on your business needs, you might want to focus solely on people that already know their staff (and thus can be productive immediately), or, alternatively, to also include people that while lacking in some skills, nevertheless show potential and have the right attitude (which you can always train later).
You can have one or more test stages, meant to progressively weed out your candidates until you are left with the very best. That said, if you have high employee churn and need to find some new hires quickly, you might not want to be overly picky and overdo this.
Of course, if you are like Google, and have people from all other the world begging to come to work for you, you can go wild with your screening.
Now, the above stages, can and should be automated. In fact, they are more effective when automated (and we will see how you can use a tool like eFront to automate them).
Between those, though, and the final human-driven interview(s), there’s another aspect of candidate screening that needs to happen manually (or semi-manually).
I’m talking about checking your candidates for whether they have a criminal background or a sketchy employee history, checking their resume, and, of course, verifying whether they have the educational and professional qualifications that they claim they do.
This part is better left for right after your automated screening process because you’ll have fewer people to check by then — those that are obviously unfit having already been weeded out at that point.
Using eFront for Automated Candidate Screening
So how can eFront help you automate your candidate screening process?
Well, the same tools that you use for testing your employees’ training progress — Tests, Quizzes and the like, are also all you need to do your pre-employment screening.
The main difference is that you won’t be training your users at that stage yet — only testing their existing knowledge.
eFront’s flexible Tests engine, with its multiple question types, is more than capable of being used for both knowledge and skills tests, and personality testing.
The ability to prepare a large question pool for automated tests to draw questions from, and to randomize questions and tests, will help you ensure that your candidates can’t collaborate to cheat on their pre-employment tests.
eFront’s Skills-Gap testing will also help your HR department make better and faster hiring decisions by giving them insight into the exact knowledge and skills of potential candidates.
What’s better, any skills gaps spotted on otherwise acceptable candidates, can be used for training them, either after they have been hired, or as part of some pre-employment training program. Your instructors won’t even have to manually suggest any courses, as eFront will do so automatically based on each candidates testing performance.
eFront’s Surveys will help you get more personalized answers, as well as feedback, from your candidates. This can be valuable for further understanding your candidates, and for finding issues with and improving your screening process.
Finally, instead of silently rejecting candidates, or throwing their applications in the garbage can, you can leverage eFront’s Events and Notifications system to send them a polite automated message informing them that they have not passed to the next stage. It’s much better than silently ignoring their applications and keeping them in the dark about it.
In this post we had a look at candidate screening — the process of going from dozens or even thousands of candidates for a job to a shortlist of the most qualified prospective hires.