A major cause of staff selection errors is the resume or written application. They are unnecessary. They create self fulfilling prophesies that overemphasize “saying” over “doing”. Here’s how to create a viable shortlist without reading resumes.
Time: The Killer Cost
The biggest cost in selecting staff is time: your time. The time you spend preparing the job analysis/description, writing the job ad, reading applications, shortlisting, arranging and conducting interviews, choosing a candidate, offering the job and starting and training or inducting the new hire. And the time of other employees is almost certain to be involved too. Spending all that time is very costly.
Reduce The Time By 50%
Most of your time is spent in reading applications, shortlisting and interviewing. And you can easily eliminate most of that without damaging the quality of the selection decision.
Take These Fundamental Actions
- Do not ask for resumes and written applications. Ask candidates to phone you. Conduct a telephone screening interview.
- Select your shortlist after you’ve completed the telephone screening.
- In your job ad, be very specific about the results that the successful candidate will be expected to achieve. Do not “cast your net wide”. The purpose of the job ad is to attract the “ideal” candidate and deter everyone else. Attracting 50 resumes may be good for your ego. It’s bad for effective selection.
- Say exactly what you want in your job ad. And state what you don’t want too. Use statements such as, “only apply for this job if… ” and “do not apply for this job unless… “. Applications from unsuitable candidates wastes your time.
- Saying exactly what you want saves time in the telephone screening too. You can ask questions based on the requirements stated in the ad. If the applicant lacks them, you can politely reject the candidacy of the caller. There’s no resume to read.
- State clearly in the job ad that “only telephone applications will be accepted. Written applications and resumes will be returned.” You might even add, “This applies to selection agents, consultants and professional recruiters as well as direct applicants.” Remember, the resume and written application is designed to convince you that the candidate concerned would make an excellent employee in your business. It’s primarily a sales device.
- Tell telephone candidates that they should not send resumes, even if you intend to include them on your shortlist. You want to know what matters most to you not them.
Conducting The Telephone Screening
Based on your job analysis, you must decide your minimum requirements for background, experience, knowledge and qualification. Prepare a script asking basic questions to determine whether applicants satisfying these minimum requirements.. Write down candidates’ answers. The script has two purposes:
- you’ll have similar information on all candidates
- you’ll be able to compare candidates easily.
If candidates don’t meet your minimum requirements, thanks them politely and tell them, there and then, that their application is unsuccessful.
This initial screening could be done by a subordinate familiar with the vacant job requirements. You’d save even more time.
Seek Supporting Details
Always seek details to support what applicants tell you. Let’s say you want someone with 3 years experience selling software to general practitioner doctors in their own practice. If the candidate says that he or she has that experience, find out as much as can in detail about it. Naturally, write it all down. If it becomes obvious from questioning that the candidate doesn’t have the background you require, say so and politely terminate the telephone interview.
Explain The Process
If it seems that you’ll want to talk with the candidate again, obtain their name, telephone number and confidential email address. Tell them that you’ll contact them again within a specified time. Explain the shortlisting process. Tell them exactly what will happen after that: e.g. interviewing, competency testing plus any other actions you’ll take.
The Benefits Of Telephone Screening
You don’t have to read “mountains” of resumes and written applications or have them clogging your emails.
- You can reject unsuitable candidates immediately, without wading through a slimy swamp of waffle words.
- You get the information you a hard sell from the candidate or require, not selection agent.
- You get that information in a way that makes it easy to compare candidates.
- You reduce the chances of being unduly influenced by an outstandingly presented resume or written application.
- You don’t waste time and money interviewing applicants who “look good on paper” but whose background proves inadequate.
- You reduce considerably the number of interviews you conduct.
- Interviews you do conduct are focused and relevant.
This telephone based shortlist process saves you vast amounts of time… and money. And it ensures that you don’t have to read page after page of resumes and written applications prepared with the prime purpose of “selling” a particular candidate to you.