Applicant Screening: How to Show Talent You Really Want Them

Applicant Screening: How to Show Talent You Really Want Them

Bringing top talent into your organization is a careful dance: on the one hand, you need to know everything you can about an applicant, and on the other, you don’t want to scare them off in the process. The good news is that most job candidates understand the need for screening and background checks, and know there’s far more to their application than just having an interview or filling out an application. Even better news is that done right, screening can actually help to convey your genuine interest in job applicants, and increase their interest in working for your company.

Of course that also means there’s a flip side: done, let’s just say, less than ideally, a screening process can result in alienated candidates who would rather withdraw their application than continue the process. If there are any misunderstandings along the way, clear them up by clarifying process, timelines and expectations. If any kind of strike against an application comes up — from an old credit snafu to a lack of certifications, handle it with discretion and tact. Consideration and clarity go a long way. If it’s a problem of not being qualified but being otherwise promising, a positive approach may place them into a talent pool, where they’re ready to apply for a job they’re more suited for — and a known quantity to your firm.

It’s critical for companies to have a well-designed, thoughtful screening process. Here are five best practices to follow:

  1. Make it mobile-friendly.

Only 20% of companies are deploying their HR and employee productivity solutions on mobile apps. But if there’s a single criteria an organization should make sure it meets, it’s being mobile friendly. Mobile application systems can markedly improve candidate experience, and that certainly includes the screening process. Millennials and Generation Z’rs may well assume they’ll be able to do everything via mobile, and be turned off when they realize they can’t. It may also convey your employer brand as being not quite up to date or tech-forward — given the choice, most younger candidates will opt for a company that is more up to date.

  1. Make it efficient.

60% of potential candidates have quit a job application process because it was too lengthy. If you’re a small to medium or hungry company that is trying to stand out above the fray, there’s a golden opportunity here. Make your application process functional but merciful, if you can. Making it streamlined may not be that simple depending on the position, but as far as not losing candidates in the process, it’s worth considering.

  1. Screen relevant criteria, but leave out the rest.

You want to get a comprehensive report that addresses the concerns and questions related to working both at your company and in the position the person’s applying for. But a hospital and a software company have different criteria beyond security questions, and executive-level is altogether different from entry-level. Outsourcing a background check to a company that conducts generic, one-size-fits-all screening only adds to the candidate’s impression that they’re nothing but a number. It also may not give you all the answers you need to make the right hire.

  1. Don’t leave out contingent or gig workers.

In the latest benchmark report by the veteran screening firm HireRight, 77% of employers polled are projecting organizational growth, and 62% of employers polled are most concerned with finding qualified job candidates. It’s inevitable — and it’s also trending — that a substantial portion of hires may be contingent or temporary workers. For both security and fairness, they should be guided through the same screening and background check process as payroll and permanent employees. 86% of employers are already doing that, according to the report, but those that aren’t are overlooking a potential risk, as well as a strike against their employer brand. It’s not fair to full-time employees who did have to undergo full screenings if they’re working alongside those that didn’t — particularly if they share the same level of security clearance.

  1. Offer applicants an accessible, easy-to-navigate portal.

Candidates should not have to feel like they’re submitting to a mysterious process to do background screening. A navigable, friendly portal is the best way through the process. There should be someone available to answer questions, and if there is unfavorable information, a tactful approach to conveying it. Make sure Fair Credit Reporting Act legal requirements are followed correctly. If a candidate disputes the findings of a report, they should be able to discuss it and an investigation should be made — and resolved quickly. Resentment breeds disengagement quickly, and it may well be all over an error. Which is yet another reason to use a reputable firm with experience.

Even if a company has limited resources, accurate, well-designed screening systems are out there. The best ones help the employer present themselves in their best light — transparent not only about what they need to know to make a good hire, but also the fact that they respect and value applicant’s time and energy. Nothing will drive candidate engagement faster than a positive screening experience. In today’s talent market, it’s the edge you need to hire great talent. Want to learn more?  Watch “7 Steps to a Candidate Experience That Wins You Top Talent” a webinar on demand lead by Meghan. M. Biro.

This article is sponsored by Hireright. Opinions are my own.

Photo Credit: RollisFontenot Flickr via Compfight cc