Candidate Screening Guide: Tools, Tips & Best Practices

Written by
Hamish Livingston
Last updated:
Created on:
December 15, 2023

Candidate Screening Guide: Tools, Tips & Best Practices

Whether due to fierce competition for talent or limited resources internally, recruiting has never been more difficult. Cutting through the noise and zeroing in on the right individuals requires not only skill but also a first-rate strategy. 

Among these strategies, one that truly stands out is candidate screening. This powerhouse tool in your recruitment arsenal streamlines the hiring process, acting like a high-precision laser that perfectly targets ideal prospects. 

So, whether you're a seasoned HR professional or a budding small business owner, this guide from Willo has something for everyone. 

Let’s get started!

What Is Candidate Screening?

Candidate screening is usually the first stage in the hiring process. 

It involves collecting a baseline level of information from applicants through screening interviews, background checks, and assessments. Historically, this has been entirely collected through resumes—but there’s a much better way to do it now. 

The goal of candidate screening is three-fold:

  • To save time by ensuring the hiring team only focuses on desirable candidates. 
  • To improve the quality of hire by identifying the best candidates early. 
  • To offer a great candidate experience by reducing the waiting time for feedback.

For example, consider Tunstall. This global health and care technology provider faced the challenge of effectively screening a large applicant pool. They turned to Willo, seeking an efficient and user-friendly way to assess candidates beyond traditional resumes.

In just six months, Willo enabled Tunstall to screen over 700 candidates across the UK and Spain, increasing its team’s screening capacity by 75% without increasing headcount. The platform not only improved the quality of hires but saved time, reducing the screening process from 30–60 minutes to 15 minutes per applicant.

Are you facing a similar challenge in your hiring process? Sign up to Willo and get started for free.

Three Types of Candidate Screening

In the diverse world of candidate screening, three types particularly stand out: asynchronous video screening, resume screening, and identity verification. 

Let’s take a look:

  • Asynchronous video screening: This method revolutionizes the traditional interview process. How? By letting candidates record their responses to interview questions at their convenience. For recruiters, asynchronous video interviewing allows teams to review responses when it suits them, saving time and reducing scheduling conflicts.
  • Resume screening: A classic in recruitment, resume screening involves reviewing resumes against job requirements. Manual screening requires recruiters' input, while software-based screening utilizes artificial intelligence to match applications against predetermined standards. While this has been the standard bear for a while, it’s a time-consuming and outdated process that is ripe for revamp (or removal from the hiring process entirely). 
  • Identity verification: Identity verification ensures that your candidates are who they say they are. This process checks the validity of identity documents, protecting your company from potential legal issues and fraudulent activity down the line.

Why Does Effective Candidate Screening Matter?

Identify culturally fit applicants

Candidate screening allows you to pinpoint applicants who match your role requirements and resonate with your company's culture – aligning with your values, work ethics, and mission. A good cultural fit leads to higher job satisfaction and better performance.

Image Source: AS White Global

Statistic Sources: Deloitte, PwC, Robert Walters

Quality of hire

A majority (62% of candidates) have received an offer for roles they aren’t qualified for. With proper screening – reviewing the applicant’s skills, experiences, and qualifications – you can avoid this scenario and select individuals who are most likely to succeed.

Lower employee turnover

Hiring individuals who are a good fit within your company culture increases their chances of staying long-term. This not only saves resources spent on frequent recruitment but also fosters continuity and stability within your teams.

How to efficiently screen candidates and save time in hiring

Diving into the ocean of candidate screening might seem daunting, but don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! With some tried and tested strategies, navigating these waters is easy.

Here’s how:

1. Create a candidate persona

Understanding who you're looking for is an important step that’s often taken for granted. 

An accurate candidate persona helps you create questions that offer deep insights into the traits, characteristics, skills, and experiences you’re looking for. Without them, you’re likely resorting to guesswork—not ideal when hiring for positions with strict expectations and requirements.

2. Identify the hiring team

You’ll also want to take some time to map out the different stakeholders that make up your hiring process. This will obviously include recruiters, but it’s important that you don’t overlook key roles like: 

  • HR
  • Hiring managers
  • Future teammates included in the hiring process

By creating a map of the hiring process and those involved, you can make sure everyone is kept in the loop and given the right amount of input into the process (more on that later).

3. Use asynchronous methods

In the evolving landscape of remote, hybrid, and virtual work, asynchronous interviews are emerging as a preferred choice for many brands. For example, 61% of hiring managers already use asynchronous processes to screen their candidates.

Asynchronous interviews let you pre-define your questions, share them with numerous candidates simultaneously, and allow them to respond at their leisure. Time zone differences? Not a problem anymore!

This method – also known as a one-way interview – reduces the time that comes with traditional interviews. And best of all, you can review applicants while sipping on your morning coffee. Instead of worrying about how you’ll fit in every candidate you want to speak with, hiring teams can collectively evaluate the responses together, ensuring everyone’s on the same page. 

Check out this in-depth demo from Willo for more guidance.

4. Invite candidates to the screening process

It’s time to invite candidates to the screening process.

With Willo, that means sending out invite links or embedding them into your ATS process and sitting back as the responses roll in. Candidates are free to participate in Willo’s async interviews on their own time, using any device with a camera and browser.

5. Review interviews and collect feedback

Once you’ve started receiving responses, the review process can begin.

Start with your core recruitment team and narrow down the list of candidates to a broad shortlist by removing candidates that don’t meet basic requirements. 

Then, use Willo’s Showcase feature to involve the stakeholders you identified in your hiring process map. This feature allows you to easily share responses, gather feedback, add notes, and collaborate with your team—all without leaving Willo’s platform.

To ensure this process is as fair and bias-free as possible, we recommend using a clear rubric to evaluate and compare candidates on key criteria.

6. Move successful candidates to the next stage

When you and your hiring team have landed on a list of applicant’s you’re excited about, it’s time to move them to the next stage of the hiring process—whether that’s formal interviews, assessments, or something else entirely.

This process is a lot easier with Willo’s easy scheduling feature. After candidates complete an async interview with Willo, they’re automatically asked to input days and times when they have availability. By comparing these slots with recruiter availability, it’s easy to book   suitable time for the next steps.

Candidate Screening FAQs

Should you screen resumes?

Resume screening is a fixture in the current recruitment landscape, but it doesn’t always yield the best results. 

Resumes represent a superficial snapshot of a candidate’s background– and that means you might be overlooking the best talent. Plus, screening thousands of applications with a small team can be time-consuming, costly, and error prone.

To simplify and improve the process:

  • Use filters: Instead of manually evaluating each resume, use filters to automatically sort candidates who meet your criteria.
  • Integrate personality tests: Personality tests are a great way to get a deeper understanding of an applicant’s character traits. Use these assessments like Arctic Shore’s to uncover the skills and passions that may not be visible on a resume.
  • Use async interviews: Alternatively, you can skip the resume entirely. Translate the key elements of a resume into questions you can ask in an asynchronous interview. Use Willo to create the interview and send it to applicants at scale. See how InHealth saved 1,000 hours in 12 months by swapping CVs for Willo’s async interviews.

Should you review cover letters? 

Cover letters offer a unique window into a candidate's personality that may not come across on their resume. And while they aren’t always necessary, they’re a useful for adding context to complex situations.

Async interviews can also be used as a stand-in for cover letters. Simply ask applicants an open ended question (e.g., “Is the anything else you’d like us to know?”) and give them enough time to explain things like: 

  • Why they left their last job
  • Challenges they faced in a certain role
  • Long employment gaps

This allows you to get the benefits of cover letters without actually having to read them.

Should you conduct assessments?

Skill and psychometric assessments are a fantastic way to evaluate candidates.

They grant a deeper understanding of a candidate's abilities and temperament, ensuring they align with the role and your company culture. Consider the following:

  • Aptitude assessments: These evaluations shed light on how individuals operate and translate their skills into practical scenarios. 
  • Personality evaluations: These tests offer insights into a candidate's character attributes, highlighting whether they possess behavioral traits necessary for the role.

Again, Arctic Shores is a tool you can use to uncover a candidate’s core traits and capabilities through gamified assessments and clear reports.

Best practices for candidate screening

As you can see, implementing an effective candidate screening process is a strategic maneuver. Here are some best practices that can optimize:

  • Check dates of employment: Employment gaps are opportunities to learn more about a candidate’s life and often speak to traits like resilience, ambition, and career development.
  • Ask the right candidate screening questions: Maintain consistency in the screening process by asking the same interview questions to all candidates. This not only ensures fairness but also makes comparing candidate responses more straightforward.
  • Keep the risk of unconscious bias at the forefront of your strategy: Unconscious bias can unintentionally influence hiring decisions. To mitigate this risk, ensure you have a diverse panel of interviewers and use standardized, consistent evaluation criteria.
  • Collect feedback from stakeholders: Keep relevant stakeholders in the loop when you notice promising candidates. You can use Willo’s Showcase™ feature to collect feedback from any internal stakeholder on any screening interview using a secure invite link — no more confusing email chains.

Streamline candidate screening with Willo

Navigating the search for new hires may feel like an uphill battle for many businesses. Sifting through endless applications, sorting credentials, and recognizing high-quality candidates can seem overwhelming. However, with the right screening procedures, discovering the perfect fit becomes significantly easier.

Ready to redefine your recruitment process? Explore Willo today, and discover how our cutting-edge platform can revolutionize your hiring efforts. Start screening candidates and step into a future of efficient, effective, and enjoyable recruitment. 

Schedule a demo for more information.

Hamish Livingston
VP of Product
LinkedIn profile

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