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Hiring with Confidence: 5 Ways to Screen and Assess Candidates Effectively


Making a quality hire is always important, but rarely easy. Sifting through hundreds of resumes in search of the right candidate can make finding a needle in a haystack sound like a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Most businesses can’t afford to make the wrong decision, though—the US Department of Labor puts the cost of a poor-quality hire at 30 percent of their salary. ‘Hiring with confidence’ is easier said than done, but it’s very possible with the right processes.

With an unstable economy on the immediate horizon and a candidate pool that’s larger than normal, now’s the time to give your screening and assessment methods some attention. With so much talent available, it’s crucial to be able to identify the best-fit candidate when you see them.

Investing now will save you time and effort once you open roles back up. Here’s how to screen and assess candidates effectively throughout your recruiting funnel:

Automating evaluations

1. Resume screening

Professional recruiters spend an average of six seconds looking at a resume. That’s not always enough time to determine whether or not the person behind the document is the best-fit hire.

Instead, consider leveraging technology to take a closer look at each resume in an automated way. Screening solutions, for example, enable you to filter candidates by pre-set minimum requirements and filter out those who don’t meet them. Rather than manually discarding hundreds of resumes that clearly don’t fit the bill, these tools enable you to translate your ideal criteria into a shortlist of candidates that are qualified for the position on paper.

With technology like an ATS in place, you’ll have a seamless way to organize, rank, and assess swathes of applicants.

Still, only 60 percent of employers are currently leveraging this technology. As a result, they’re likely leaving a ton of talent on the table. Without these tools, there’s no effective way to work through a high-volume pool of applications. Using an ATS gives you a major edge as a recruiter, while also letting you access the latest influx of talent as a result of COVID-19 unemployment.

And remember, the initial setup is important – the software is only as unbiased as the criteria you set. Platforms that highlight their commitment to inclusivity help you build a diverse team that could see your business safely through a recession.

2. Pre-employment assessments

Using technology to streamline the initial resume screening process is guaranteed to save you a massive amount of time. With the job market now flooded with candidates, though, you might still find yourself with hundreds of resumes to contend with.

A ‘pre-employment assessment’ platform can help to chip away at that mountain of applications. The right assessment tool will deliver skills, personality, and emotional intelligence tests at scale. Best of all, these also result in a ranked list of candidates once they’re complete.

If you’re automating these assessments, it’s also important to choose a provider that continuously evaluates their own tests for validity, and backs them with research.

Learning more about candidates

3. Hands-on assessments

Automation can do a lot of the legwork for recruiters, but once you’ve got a more manageable list of candidates, it’s a good idea to take a more active role in the assessment process.

The ‘right assessment’ will vary depending on the position you’re trying to fill. These are a few of the most common:

  • Job knowledge tests – Use these to determine what candidates already know about the industry and the role itself. If the job requires specific knowledge or skills, (like an engineering position, for example) this type of assessment will let you know whether a candidate is up to scratch.
  • Personality tests – Assessing a candidate’s personality traits can give you an idea of the role they’d play within your organization. Some may identify as leaders, others as collaborators. It’s a good way to find out how they’ll mesh with your company culture, too.
  • Emotional intelligence tests ****– ‘EI’ evaluations are most useful if you’re hiring for a leadership position. It doesn’t make much sense to ask entry-level hires about their interpersonal skills unless the job is public-facing and involves problem solving and conflict management.
  • Cognitive ability tests – The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) describes cognitive tests as those that “assess…reasoning, perception, memory, verbal and mathematical ability, and problem solving.” Traditional tests like these can give employers a useful look at an applicant’s general skillset.
  • Job simulation tests – Candidates can be asked to perform a task that mirrors the kind of thing they’d do if they got the job. This is a more resource-heavy assessment because it requires the creation of a sample task and evaluation on the part of the hiring team, but it can be useful insight into the way applicants work.

Ideally, a few of these methods should be used alongside one another to provide a comprehensive picture of an applicant’s abilities. While it can be helpful to have an ‘ideal candidate’ in mind, don’t be too rigid about it.

It’s important to use assessments not just to eliminate those that aren’t right for the job, but also to look at an applicant’s transferable abilities so you can identify areas for training and development. Applicants don’t have static skillsets—you can help them grow once they’ve been hired.

4. Background checks

Trust is an important factor in the hiring process. As a result, many businesses choose to perform background checks on candidates in order to make the most informed hire possible.

Look for a provider that is certified by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), and that can perform the essential checks in one place to avoid confusion.

You’ll also want to follow up with any references provided as part of the application.

5. Structured interviews

Once you’ve significantly narrowed your options, invite candidates for an interview. The average vacancy sees just two percent of applicants reach the interview stage, so if you’ve done your screening, testing, and checking right, you should only have your talent pool narrowed down to a few highly qualified people.

If not, consider an additional screening step like a one-way video interview. These allow you to ask candidates a set of predetermined questions and view their responses on your own time.

Beyond one-way video interviews, the COVID-19 pandemic has made remote interviews a must overall. If you haven’t already, invest in a video interviewing software to remain flexible and compliant with safety regulations. Check out our deep-dive into video interview questions here.

Whatever the medium, it’s important to create as diverse an interviewing panel as possible, prepare questions ahead of time, and standardize the note-taking and evaluation process.

Hiring with confidence

The International Labour Organization estimates that more than 300 million jobs have been lost worldwide as a result of the recent pandemic. That’s a huge number of talented people waiting to help your organization weather the coming economic instability.

A screening and assessment process that blends unbiased automation and thorough, relevant testing will help you cut thousands of applicants down to the best three or four for the job. Get evaluations right, and you’ll make quality hires with confidence.



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