For most HR personnel, sifting through thousands of resumes to shortlist the ones that best fit the role is the most time-consuming part of their job. Bottlenecks in the screening process can have a wide-ranging effect on each step of the hiring process. Without proper screening, it can take much longer for critical positions to close. If unqualified candidates get through the screening and reach the interview step, it could also be a drain on the interviewer’s time. Efficient candidate screening, therefore, is key to helping your talent acquisition process run smoothly. Here are five methods for screening candidates to shortcut your candidate screening process.

1. Write a detailed job description

If unqualified candidates filter themselves out before even applying, it reduces the volume of unfit resumes you will have to go through during the candidate screening process. For this to happen, your job description needs to be up-to-date and truly reflective of the team’s requirements. Before posting a job description to your website, have an in-depth discussion with the team involved on exactly what they are looking for in a candidate; this includes the candidate’s years of experience, educational qualifications, past work experience, etc. You can use this information to write an accurate job description that candidates can use to judge whether they are the right fit for a role during the job screening process. 

2. Ask for a cover letter

A resume can give you details of a candidate’s past experience, but it might not be able to tell you much about who the candidate is as a person. Increasingly these days, companies are looking to hire candidates that aren’t just a technical fit for the role, but a culture fit as well. To determine this during the job screening process, you can ask candidates to submit a cover letter along with their resume. The cover letter will give you an idea of a candidate’s communication skills, their motives behind wanting to join your company and what their career goals are. This information can help you ensure only high-quality candidates pass through to the next round. 

3. Use resume screening technology

If your company receives thousands of resumes, it might be worth investing in resume screening technology. These types of software use keywords to distinguish between qualified and unqualified candidates. After this initial screening, you can then do a quality check on the resumes which have been passed through to shortlist the best ones. The accuracy of the resume screening software is entirely dependent upon how accurate your job description and requirements were. This highlights the importance of getting your job requirements right. 

4. Ask for references

References are a great way to verify the information a candidate has put on their resume. It also gives you an idea of how candidates operate in a professional setting and within a team. Make sure you do a quick background check on the references as well to ensure that they work in a company the candidate was previously a part of.

5. Ask candidates to complete an assignment

For roles which are largely skill-based, an assignment related to the job requirements can help determine whether the candidate has the necessary skillset or not. This can also work as a self-filtering mechanism because candidates who do not know how to carry out the assignment will simply not apply or send it in. 

These methods for screening candidates can be invaluable in freeing up your time, allowing you to focus on quality candidates. With these five tips, finding the perfect candidate will no longer be like finding a needle in a haystack.