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Why Pre-Screen Applicants

Question:

Recruiting takes so much time, and now a colleague has suggested that we prescreen job applicants. Is it worth the additional time and what is the benefit of prescreening?

Answer:

We can all certainly agree that recruiting can be very time consuming; writing and placing ads, searching resume banks, screening resumes, and interviewing and vetting candidates. It’s often a catch-22: we need more staff to help with the workload, but the workload is so great we have no time to search for additional staff. Conducting a prescreen can be a valuable tool that can save time in the long run and help you recruit more productively.

No matter how well we write the job posting, sometimes it’s hard to tell from an applicant’s resume whether they have the specific requirements of the position. Having a prescreen allows you to further narrow the applicant pool to define the focus of your efforts. The prescreen serves as tool to add some 3-dimensional characteristics to a typically flat 2-dimensional resume.

Let’s say you need a welder with SMAW 5G Pipe weld skills and you have 20 resumes that just say “welding experience”. You could ignore the 20 resumes, but in today’s hiring environment, short on appropriately skilled talent, it often pays to turn over every stone to find the perfect match. You could talk with all 20 applicants, but that might take loads of time. A prescreener could help determine if the applicant has the exact pipe weld experience you need by asking the applicant for more specific details about their welding experience. A carefully constructed prescreen can identify which applicants meet the specific requirements of the job, before the resume ever has to be reviewed by HR or the hiring manager, saving both time. This is invaluable for a position that might get several hundred resume responses. Often the prescreen can be incorporated as part of the direct application process, narrowing candidates to only those who pass the prescreen.

When constructing the prescreen, length is key. Too short and you don’t get enough information, too long and applicants lose interest in the process and don’t complete the screener. Keeping the prescreen to no more than 10 questions is about ideal. Narrow down the questions to the must have skill sets or qualities. Even though it may take a little more time to construct the pre-screen initially, it saves time in the end by narrowing the candidate pool.

With today’s high unemployment there are lots of job seekers, but only one is going to be the right “fit” for your job opening. It takes a targeted approach using the right message, the best resources and lots of follow up to find that “needle in a haystack”. It can be expensive when not well thought-out, but when done correctly doesn’t have to break the budget. Strategic HR, inc. knows what it takes to attract, hire and retain the best employees. Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of your process, we can assist you. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can provide you with top notch recruitment assistance.