The Case for Screening Job Applicants

If you Google “account executive job applicant screening questions” you will get about 249 million results.  The problem with those results is that most of them are not “screening questions” related at all, they are mostly “interview questions” related.  Try this for any job role and you will see a similar result.  But screening and interview questions are the same thing, right?  No, they are not.

Why is it that you can find page after page of interview questions, but not screening questions?  Probably because 99% of time is spent on getting the right interview questions, and spending little to no time creating screening questions.  This means there is a high probability that hiring managers are asking some incredibly thoughtful behavioral and situational interview questions…but unfortunately they are asking those questions to candidates that may not even be qualified on a basic level.

The typical process for screening job applicants is a two-step process: 1. Review the resume and look for keywords that match the job description. 2. Phone screen with the job applicant.

I know some people out there are going to say, “well we do more than that, we have a coding challenge for our software developers, or an aptitude or behavioral assessment that we use for screening.”  Those tools are great and the data they provide is useful.  But do you administer those tools to 100% of the applicants for every single job role, or just the few you chose after reviewing a resume and conducting a phone screen?

Reviewing resumes and phone screens are not enough.Going through resumes one at a time is inefficient and ineffective.  Resumes lack the necessary context needed to truly evaluate an applicant, and phone screens are usually not specific enough to truly qualify an applicant.

Screening in this way is not a fair process for the job applicants, and additionally, companies are missing top talent.  In higher applicant volume situations, many of the applicants don’t get reviewed at all because they are being organized chronologically by the applicant tracking systems (ATS).  Suppose you are the best qualified applicant but you happened to apply 243rd out of 250 applicants. There is a good chance your information will not even be looked at and the company loses the most qualified person.  If you are reviewed, but you don’t have the right keywords on your resume, then you also run the risk of being overlooked.

For companies to do a better job of screening applicants, they should start:

  • Going through every job description and figuring out exactly what is meant by “experience with” or “knowledge of” or “familiarity in” type of statements
  • Generating specific screening questions for each job role and knowing which answers to look for so you can generate an equitable scoring evaluation
  • Ensuring that every single job applicant answers the exact same set of questions to give every applicant a fair and equitable chance of getting an interview