By Gemma Morris
10th July 2012

As professional recruiters there are many techniques that we use to source the best candidates for our clients. In fact, advertising a job is a very small part of what we do!  Our search extends into  manipulating our candidate database, scouring the internet, job boards and social media as well as head-hunting and networking.  However, when we do advertise a new role we tend to get a lot of responses and it can be time consuming to screen and shortlist these applicants so that only those relevant make the final cut.

So, how do we do this and what percentage actually makes it past the initial screening and onto a client’s shortlist?

CV Screening

For each job we work on we screen hundreds of CVs.  We have to make sure we look at every applicant as quickly as possible to make sure we don’t miss a great candidate through not responding quickly enough.  At this stage we are checking the basic details of the applicant to see if there is a possible match.

The main things we are looking at are:-

  • Signs that the candidate is or is not eligible to work in the UK.
  • Where the candidate lives in relation to the role.
  • Work history, including length of time in each job and any gaps in employment.
  • Relevant technical skills, projects and work experience.

After screening the CV, candidates tend to fall into one of three categories:-

  • A really good match - These candidates appear to meet most of the criteria on paper so are contacted as a matter of urgency for telephone screening.
  •  A possible match - These candidates meet some of the criteria so are contacted as soon as possible for telephone screening.
  • Unsuitable candidate -There are lots of reasons that someone could fall into this category including some of those mentioned above.  We will always get in touch to let a candidate know if they have not been shortlisted as they could well be a great match for another requirement.

Initial Telephone Screening

It is essential that we make contact with candidates quickly to establish if they might be a good match for our client, so one of our Resourcing Consultants will contact the candidate as soon as possible after application.  In this initial telephone conversation we speak to the candidate to find out:-

  • Their reason for looking for a new job and reasons for leaving current or last job.
  • Salary expectation.
  • Location/Travel/Relocation requirements.
  • Career aspirations and type of role they are looking for.
  • Their technical skills.
  • Their communication/soft skills

If at this stage they are a potential match, we will discuss the opportunity further and let them know who our client is to establish if the candidate is interested in taking the opportunity further.

This is where quite a lot of candidates tend to drop out from the process, either because the job is not what they are looking for, or is not meeting their salary or location requirements.  We will also make a decision about if we believe the candidate is a good match with our clients’ requirements in all of the areas mentioned above.  If so, at this stage we contact the client to update them on our progress.

In-depth Telephone Interview

This is where things get more interesting and we really start to delve into the detail! We need to be confident that this candidate is a good match for the role.  Not only are we looking for suitability skills-wise but we also need to be sure that they are motivated about the role and our client.   We will be looking for candidates to convince us why we should represent them with one of our clients, not the other way round.  We do not persuade people to apply for one of our roles and we  don’t represent someone if we are not totally confident with their commitment.

The types of things we are looking at include:-

  • Candidates will be prepared to take the time out of their day to speak to us.  If they can’t make time now how will they attend an interview?
  • Open and honest about current package details and realistic salary expectations.
  • Can give valid reasons for gaps in employment.
  • Able to give us real life examples of where, when and how they have used their skills.
  • Will provide us with references.
  • Will keep us informed of other job applications and interviews.
  • Can provide proof of eligibility to work in the UK.
  • They will make themselves available for interviews and take the time to properly prepare themselves.

Case study

Using a job we filled recently as an example we have put together a case study highlighting the ad response from a data/statistical analyst job.

Job: Data/Statistical Analyst for a leading web based organisation in London

Salary: up to £40K

Advertised on: 12th April for one month

Number of responses: 209

For this job we screened 209 responses to the ad, and also hundreds of candidates from other sources. This led to us sending six shortlisted and prepared candidates to our client. They went on to interview one of them and then offered them the job. 

Spotlight on shortlisting

We hope that you have enjoyed this first in a series of Spotlight articles. If there is a topic you would like us to cover please leave a comment below

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