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How to automate candidate screening

The main reason that caused application screening is a «new normal» for workplaces. And while the pandemic has had an impact, it’s only part of what’s making us reinvent the way we work. The other reasons are conversations about equality and ever-increasing digitization.

Without a doubt, the changes we’re witnessing are for the best. However, change always creates uncertainties. One of them is how to recruit professionals now, especially how to screen them. The pressure is high, as recruiters need to focus on so many things to select the right candidate in terms of professionalism, interpersonal skills, and inclusivity.

On average, HR specialists spend 23 hours on application screening for just one position. How can we make the most of this time, or maybe even reduce the number of hours? In this article, we address these questions by looking at practical methods of screening candidates, establishing a screening process, and AI recruitment tools that help screen applicants faster and more efficiently.

Best performing methods for screening candidates

Successful recruiters have smart workflows. You don’t have to spend endless nights to identify the best applicants. To make your work easier, just put three intelligent methods into practice when screening candidates:


Pre-screening saves significant time by eliminating applicants that are not a good fit for your company. To pre-screen, you need to prepare a candidate pre-screening questionnaire asking about the most crucial things for the position. Once you receive responses, you can identify the candidates whose answers match your expectations and devote your efforts to reaching them.

Here are some ideas of what you can ask job seekers:

  • Experience, hard and soft skills;
  • Relocation, working hours, and expected compensation;
  • Work preferences regarding environment and hierarchy.

Our application process requires candidates to answer position-specific questions. The first thing we look at, even before the resume, is their responses to our questions. Their responses show us if they have the drive and desire to work with us (i.e., not just applying to every single position they see on a job board), as well as their problem-solving, reasoning, and decision-making skills.

Courtney Mudd from Influence & Co.

Automated video interviews

With the help of automated video interviews, you can learn a lot about a person while spending as little time as possible. The idea here is that applicants send short video clips with their responses to interview questions. To use this method, you need a piece of software to invite a candidate to do a virtual interview. When they submit the answers, briefly go through them to shortlist candidates for the next recruitment stage. The answers will give you a sense of how the candidates think, as well as how they communicate.

Screen CVs

Many HR professionals consider CV screening to be incredibly important. And no wonder, as this is how you learn about applicants’ experience, skills, achievements, and educational background. However, CV screening takes forever, as you have to carefully read a lot of resumes, right? Well, not always.

Special software for HR professionals can help you automate the candidate screening process. All a recruiter needs to do is identify the most critical points. The technology will go through all the uploaded CVs to create applicant profiles and identify the strongest fits for the position. And after forming a clear understanding of the candidate’s ability and ranking in the applicant pool, an HR manager can approach them directly with concrete, personalized questions.

Three steps of the application screening process

As a recruiter, you know how hectic headhunting is. Especially when you receive hundreds of CVs and all of them are so different. Robert Meier, President of Job Market Experts, says, “98% of job seekers are eliminated at the initial resume screening and only the ‘Top 2%’ of candidates make it to the interview.”

A well-thought-out and scalable process will help you make sense of recruitment and find the right person for your organization in the shortest time possible.

  1. Screen CVs: focus here on experience and the way candidates choose to present their information. During the initial fast screening, pay attention to gaps in their employment history.
  2. Screen Cover letters: the information given in them is (or should be) personalized for your company and the position. When assessing cover letters, check how well the candidate is informed about your organization and its business, and why they think they are a good match. Also, focus on their strengths and weaknesses to understand what they will bring to the company and how self-aware they are.
  3. Call the candidate: once you’ve handpicked the strongest candidates, have a phone call with them. After the previous two steps, you will have some questions. By hearing the answers, you will resolve your doubts. Also, you will see if the candidate is rude or indifferent when talking to you. This is very important information to have before offering an actual interview.

The power of the application screening software

As we’ve already said before, the software for screening applications is of great help when looking for new employees. Let’s take a closer look at the resume screening tools and what you can do with their help:

  1. Convert CVs into data
    The technology analyzes received CVs and parses the information to create candidate profiles. This will allow you to form various lists of candidates based on different criteria.
  2. Manage the test assignments
    There’s no better way to understand the abilities of a candidate than to see them in action. Special resume screening tools for HR professionals can help you send assessment tests in a couple of clicks, receive updates on their completion, and view the results instantly.
  3. Create and manage questionnaires
    As we’ve already seen, a questionnaire is a powerful method for screening candidates. Also, it’s very easy to implement if you already use HR technology. Create lists of questions in a couple of minutes, add them into your email directly, and automatically process the answers.
  4. Collaborate
    No recruiter is an island. You constantly need to work with other managers, teams, and stakeholders. Using online candidate screening software, you can work with your colleagues on screening applications by sharing access to resumes as well as parsed data. This speeds up the hiring process and enables well-informed decision-making.
  5. Keep contacts
    You will likely have more than one candidate who’s perfect for the position. HR software can store information about your strongest candidates that haven’t received an offer. And when you have a similar job opening, you can contact them even before listing a job to reduce recruitment costs.

How to create a custom application screening process

In this day and age, no two businesses are identical. This means you cannot follow the universal practices for screening candidates. Employ the following approaches to create a custom screening process.

1. Set up your software right
Naturally, there are certain skills and experience you are looking for. Make sure to include them as sorting criteria in your screening software. You can add and remove fields depending on the position. To work with only the most relevant candidates, sort received applications by relevance, and engage with those who show great potential for your business. 

2. Make your communication personal
When creating a letter or calling your candidate, it’s important not only to present all the information about your company but also to show the applicant that you’ve taken the time to learn more about them too. Demonstrate an understanding of who you are talking to. HR software can create reports and analysis on candidates to provide you with rich information about them instantly. And HR software integrations with email make information sharing easy and convenient.

3. Customize pre-screening questionnaire
Questionnaires allow you to ask candidates about work experience and other critical factors for employment. For example, you can ask about their visa status, the date they’ll be available to start a new job, their willingness to relocate, etc. Combining this information with data from the CV gives you a 360-degree view of the candidate’s compatibility with your organization. 

4. Check social media
There are many cases when an individual publishing controversial content on social media caused reputational harm to an associated brand or employer. Check links to the applicant’s social media profiles to better understand them and avoid PR risks. Include the links to their profile on your HR recruitment software, so your team has access to complete information about the candidate too.

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