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Proper Candidate Screening:
Keeping out the Time Wasters


Here’s a typical scenario: You are desperate to fill an urgent role in your business. You've received a few applications to the advertisement you posted. You've had a quick glance at the resumes and you ask your HR Manager to book in four candidates to see you. Three of the interviews are a total waste of your time (the candidates are completely wrong for the job or wouldn't suit your culture at all). One of them is perfect but in order to find the one you still wasted at least three hours of your valuable time.

Sound familiar?

The problem is that you probably realized they were a waste of your time in the first 10 minutes of the interview. But you still went ahead with the interview anyway.

The good news is that there is a way to prevent these time wasting interviews simply by having a more thorough applicant screening process in place. It’s all well and good to have a close read through someone’s covering letter or to flick through a resume but this is still only helping you formulate your opinion based on a candidate’s ability to get the job.

You can see qualifications, past experience (roles, employers etc) and other general information such as software proficiency from their resume. But you really still don’t know anything at all about them as people. You can’t assess someone’s ability to actually do the job in question (and ideally do it well) from looking at two or three typed A4 pages.

You need to pick up the phone and speak to (that’s right… actually have a conversation with) the applicants. Not every single one – just those that you feel inclined to bring in for interview.

But it’s not just a matter of asking them where they live, what salary they are on, and when they might be able to start (most of which is probably included either in the covering letter or resume itself anyway). You need to ask them a few more in-depth questions.

Here are a few questions that have really helped us here at Halcyon Finance and Accounting filter out candidates in the past:

• “What specifically was it about my advertisement that attracted your attention?”

• “What are you ideally looking for in your next role?”

• “What has been your greatest career related achievement to date?”

• “What type of work environment have you enjoyed working in the most?”

Not only will the actual answers to these questions tell you a lot about the candidate’s goals and motivations but you will also get a good feel for their communication skills and also whether they have even thought about your specific role, or whether your position just happened to be one of 25 jobs that they applied for overnight because the job title matched an automated keyword search.

By asking these questions not only will you get a far better feel for whether they would be right for your business, but they will also get a good feel for whether your job is right for them – potentially saving everyone a lot of wasted energy and frustration.

It’s far more efficient to spend 10-15 minutes on the phone with three applicants who you then decide not to bring in for interview than to bring in all three, spend at least 45 minutes with each of them, realize they’re tire kickers, and find yourself extremely frustrated and right back where you started having wasted half a day away from your core responsibilities.


In summary

• Pick up the phone and speak to the applicants that you think are interview worthy

• You need to ask them a few in-depth questions even during a telephone screen

• Keep out the candidates that will waste your time


How can we help? Please let us know how we can support you or your business?