3 Approaches to Pre-Screening Job Candidates

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With cost-per-hire averaging just over $4,500 and the average time to fill ranging anywhere from 25 days (production positions) up to 88 days (executive positions) effective pre-screening job candidates can be one option to help streamline the recruitment and hiring process, ultimately reduce costs and help find the best talent for the organization.

Phone interviews

According to the 2013 ERC Hiring Trends & Practices Survey the majority of organizations use pre-screening phone interviews as part of their process. Specifically, 74% of employers report using pre-screening phone interviews when attempting to fill their exempt positions and 55% report using them for non-exempt positions. In addition, pre-screening phone interviews tend to be used most often by larger, for-profit, non-manufacturing organizations.

Pre-screening interview questions ranged from  basic questions about candidates’ background, experience, and job responsibilities; type of job, manager, and organization sought; schedule, location, shift, and start date; knowledge about the company; reason for leaving; reason for looking; expected salary and compensation; and interest in the position. Employers also ask more self-reflective questions about work quality, career goals, managerial style, and motivation.

Third party recruiters

About two-thirds of participants make use of staffing agencies or third party recruiters, which can be another effective method of pre-screening job candidates. When asked how often they engaged these agencies, the most common response was “sometimes”, i.e. recruiters were specifically used for help on hiring seasonal workers or for an individual position. Particularly in cases where there is a very large pool of applicants using an outside agency can be very helpful in narrowing down the pile of resumes before calling in formal interviewees, so it was unsurprising to see that for smaller non-profit organizations, staffing agencies were a far less popular pre-screening solution than they were for larger manufacturers. However, even among those organizations with 50 or fewer employers about half still indicated using some type of third party recruiter or staffing agency, even if it was on very rare occasions.

Social media

Due to various potential legal liabilities that have been addressed by the EEOC and in the courts in 2013, it is not entirely surprising that here in Northeast Ohio very few organizations are using social media for formal screening purposes during the hiring process. For example, only 8% of those organizations reporting using social media do so for pre-screening purposes before bringing in a job candidate. In these few cases where social media tools are used as a formal screening tool, employers are typically looking at the basics, i.e. place of previous employment, job title or position held, job description or responsibilities and dates of previous employment. Evaluating more subjective items like opinions about personality, work culture fit, management/work style or motivation and options about job performance is, many would argue wisely, left largely to the more direct and traditional reference check method.

Additional Resources

For more about Northeast Ohio’s hiring trends download the full 2013 Hiring Trends & Practices report here free of charge.