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5 Tips on How To Develop a Screening Process for Job Applicants

  • Human Resources
  • Article
  • 6 min. Read
  • Last Updated: 01/25/2022

Job applicant going through an interview after completing the applicant screening process

Table of Contents

Despite being critically important, screening applicants with a thorough pre-employment background check may not be front-of-mind for small businesses. Here's why screening applicants is important and how you can use this process to help find the right employees.

What Is a Screening Process?

An applicant screening process is a combination of checks employers can perform to help evaluate the quality of their potential hires. This process can provide more data on candidates beyond what can typically be discerned in a face-to-face interview and on a resume. Certain screening solutions can also help employers verify the accuracy of what candidates include as qualifications, such as diplomas or certifications. When the checks in a comprehensive screen are combined with interviews, this can provide employers with a greater chance of hiring a quality candidate that is the best fit for the position.

Background screening solutions may include:

  • Checking references and verifying the accuracy of information provided on a resume or application;
  • Conducting criminal history checks where permitted under law;
  • Running credit checks where appropriate to the position and permitted under law; and/or
  • Conducting other advanced screenings when appropriate.

Benefits of Effective Candidate Screening

Screening job candidates is a critical element of the hiring process. Effective screening can help minimize the risk of making a bad hire. Effective applicant assessment pre-offer and utilizing post-offer, pre-employment background screening can help improve the quality of your hiring.

Effective screening may result in:

  • Hiring the best-qualified individuals for your open positions
  • Minimizing employee turnover and related expenses
  • Limiting potential claims of negligent hiring

Keep in mind there are applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding background screening. Employers must comply with all the laws and regulations that are applicable to their business.

Tips for Screening and Evaluating Candidates

Here are five key tips for developing your screening process for job candidates during the hiring process to help find the right employees for your business:

  1. Implement a strong application and resume screening process. Paychex HR coach Kirsten Tornow emphasizes the value of having a strong process in place for screening applicants. "This is essential for weeding out applicants who fail to meet the basic requirements for a position, such as minimum experience or education." Skipping this step to accelerate the hiring process isn't worth the headache of training and managing an underqualified hire.
  2. Use automated systems to improve the process. "In the past, hiring managers needed to screen virtually all applications and resumes manually," Tornow notes, "but now the process can be automated with effective candidate management and application tracking systems." Applicant tracking software can:
    • Standardize processes for job postings, interview scheduling, and hiring workflows;
    • Lower the costs of finding, interviewing, and onboarding a new hire; and
    • Enable applicants to apply how and when they want.
  3. Utilize telephone screening and reference checks before conducting in-person interviews. "Too many companies are quick to bring a candidate in for an in-person interview and then find out the candidate isn't a good fit," Tornow reports. "The candidate could be screened out during a 20-minute telephone interview and time could be saved by avoiding an onsite appearance." Just as important is the need to thoroughly check a candidate's references. "Employers should take the time to call previous employers as well as other references provided to confirm prior job performance, and that the experience the candidate lists on their resume or application is accurate," Tornow adds.
  4. Make clear in your job postings that a background screening process will take place where permitted. You can save time and expenses by clearly indicating in your job postings that background checks will take place. Knowing of a pre-employment screening process could discourage some applicants from applying in the first place.
  5. Partner with an organization with in-depth job candidate screening resources. Small businesses may lack the comprehensive resources needed for a thorough pre-employment background check. In these cases, it's beneficial to partner with a firm that understands your company's background screening needs. Today's integrated HR platforms can help support the process and integrate seamlessly with background check providers.

Start Developing Your Employee Screening Process Today

By utilizing a detailed screening process and quality screening solutions, employers can mitigate the risk of making a bad hire. Screening solutions can often uncover information about applicants that would otherwise take employers much longer to uncover through a manual search. This information can give employers a more well-rounded picture of potential employees and ultimately help in selecting and hiring the best fit for open positions across the organization. With these benefits in mind, consider implementing an employee screening and background check process for your organization.


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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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