Tips for Screening Candidates

Josh Burkwist

Josh Burkwist

Author

Director of Talent Acquisition

role

November 1, 2022

Published

You have your hiring plan, and your job description is live. Now it's time to interview candidates of interest.

Screening candidates can feel daunting, but with the proper preparation, things will run much more smoothly.

Whittle down the talent pool

You might have hundreds of candidates to filter through. Don't interview them all. Use the qualification criteria that you previously determined for success in this role to help you decide on who to interview or not.

Here are some areas worth considering to be included in your list of criteria:

  • Professional experience
  • Grammar & punctuation
  • Organization and formatting
  • Technical skills / job-specific skills
  • Communcation skills
  • Personality traits & culture add
  • Education

Define each, making sure they are specific and measurable. This part of the process doesn't provide much in personality or cultural fit, but there are other ways of making that determination.

Be James Bond

Before contacting them, look at their blog, website, portfolio, social media accounts, and professional accounts like LinkedIn or Github. Does their work history align with their resume? Are there any red flags on their social media? Remember, you're hiring for more than - can they do the job? What can you find about them to mention when you reach out?

Who do you "both" know?

Identify any shared connections on LinkedIn and talk with them about the candidates. This can be extremely valuable, especially if the mutual connection is someone that you trust.

It's about more than just "Qualifications"

Experience and credentials are crucial; however, don't always go for the most qualified candidate. At this time in your company's journey, the working chemistry of the person can be a key factor in achieving success.

This connection is vital in smaller teams and even more critical in the startup's high-pressure, high-stakes atmosphere. Making the wrong hire can have drastic consequences.

Getting the work done is crucial to a startup. But how they get the job done and work with the rest of the team is as crucial. Low morale and infighting are a tragedy waiting to happen.

Dedication

If they aren't enthusiastic about the project, they aren't the perfect fit for you. That's all there is to it. Startups thrive because of their founders' and initial employees' zeal. If you don't have passion and dedication, you won't have the drive and energy that a young company needs to succeed.

The level of enthusiasm, or lack thereof, displayed by a candidate during an interview is just as important as their skills and resume. Startups want to hire enthusiastic people about the company: how fast they respond to your messages or a squeal of delight in their voice when they respond to questions speaks as much as the answers themselves.

Unconscious Bias

We all tend to favor similarity; therefore, recognize and check your unconscious bias. People who share our hobbies or backgrounds are more likely to get along with us and we believe will be a better "fit" or "hire." This, as well as other biases, might be damaging during screening.

Fine-tune the Candidate's Experience

A good first impression goes a long way! A positive candidate experience is critical when making a first impression. Always be explicit and upfront, send follow-up emails and provide feedback within 24 hours. Regardless of whether or not you hire a candidate, they may be a good fit for future positions or may be able to suggest other applicants worth considering.

What are some of your favorite interview/screening tips?

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