Step 3: Screening of applicants
Our adverts advise applicants to request an application form. Why? I believe that it is important to be able to compare ‘apples for apples’ and therefore, in order to be able to compare applicants equally, we ask them to complete an application form so that everybody has had the same opportunity to provide the required information.
Are applicants who simply submit their CV and do not complete an application form as interested in the role as applicants that do submit a completed application form? Of course not, so I will reject them on the basis that they don’t REALLY want the job.
Your application form could be designed to either include or exclude all of the information that would normally be included in a CV (e.g. employment history, education history). If you choose to exclude this information, ensure that, of course, the applicant submits their CV in addition to the application form.
Gathering information that is not in a standard CV
Use your application form to obtain information from clients that their CV won’t provide, and use that information as part of the screening of applicants, as you decide who will be interviewed. So, what type of questions could you ask that are specific to your role or business that you could include in your application form? Below are some examples
- Why do you want to work for us?
- What makes you the best candidate for this role?
- Why is now a good time for you to work for us?
- How do you see your career developing over the next 5-10 years?
If there are technical elements to the job, why not ask a couple of questions to test the applicant’s knowledge? This could avoid interviewing them, only to discover at that point that they don’t have the relevant skills.
One question to always include is: “How did you find out about this position?”. Use the responses to this question in order to measure which methods of promoting your vacancy were the most successful so that you know to use them next time.
Interview or unsuccessful application?
I’ve already given my thoughts on applicants that submit their CV but won’t complete an application form, but what about people who apply after the closing date? There are valid arguments for allowing such applications to go into the screening process or to simply be rejected before screening. Personally I choose the latter option.
Step 1 of our recruitment process looked at profiling your ideal candidate. When screening the applications in order to decide who to interview, your ideal candidate profile should be foremost in your thoughts. A checklist of criteria that you are looking for from applicants will help you when analysing their applications. You may even want to give each criteria a weighting and then score candidates, with the highest scoring candidates being those that are asked for interviews.
Whatever your method of screening, if you don’t apply it consistently, you may miss out on interviewing one or more good candidates – maybe even the best one for the job.
Communication – The Personal Touch
Here in South Africa, I read far too many job adverts stating “If you haven’t heard from us in x days, consider your application unsuccessful”. At Assured Bookkeeping Solutions, we treat people as we would like to be treated, and this applies to our recruitment process. We contact EVERY applicant to:
- acknowledge receipt of their application
- either arrange an interview or to let them know that their application was unsuccessful and ask if we can keep their application on file for future vacancies
I agree that this is time-consuming, but we feel that the personal touch makes it worthwhile.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article. Keep a look out for Part 4 and be sure to leave a comment or two on this article!