How To Screen Potential Hires – Red Flags SME Owners Should Look Out For

Updated on 3 February 2020

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By: Siobhan Zurnamer, Marketing Lead, Giraffe

This article is part of a series on recruitment, to help you hire the right people. Part 1 is Recruitment Made Easy for SMEs, which answers frequently asked questions about candidate sourcing. Part 2 gives you a step-by-step guide on how to write job specs to attract great candidates.

Hiring is both time consuming and costly. To ensure your recruitment strategy is efficient, inclusive and fair, it’s critical you focus your efforts on creating a solid screening process.

What is a candidate screening process?

Companies use a screening process to evaluate a candidate’s background and qualifications, and to eliminate unqualified candidates from the pool of job applicants. An effective screening process allows companies to save both time and money by ensuring that they minimise the amount of in-person interviews they conduct.

Screening candidates will include conducting background checks, sending job applicants follow-up questions to answer, or other assessments to test a job applicant’s qualifications.

A screening process will depend on the size of your company and the type of role for which you’re hiring, but it should include a few critical steps.

We’ll cover how you can run an effective screening process to ensure your strategy is as efficient and unbiased as possible.

How to screen job applicants

1. Write a clear job description to attract the right candidates

Writing a good job description can save you a tonne of time when it comes to screening job applicants. Clear and compelling job descriptions are particularly important for small businesses that don’t have the resources or capacity to sort through thousands of CVs.

Ultimately, it’s critical you ensure your job description allows you to correctly identify qualified candidates from the start, while enabling you to attract the widest pool of applicants possible.

2. Look out for red flags in candidate CVs

Screening candidate CVs effectively are essential. It’s important to spot any red flags that might indicate a bad candidate:

a) Watch out for spelling, formatting and presentation mistakes. Although not essential for all roles, good spelling and grammar indicates a good education.

b) Check how many times the candidate has changed jobs in the last year. Candidates who change jobs regularly are unlikely to stay long with your company resulting in the need to replace and retrain.

c) Avoid candidates with long unexplained gaps in their work experience history – always ask why there was a long gap.

d) Avoid candidates who have been out of work for more than six months without a good explanation. The longer someone is out of work, the harder it may be for them to adapt to a working environment.

e) Avoid job applicants who don’t provide references.

f) Make sure you get at least two references (that are not the friends of the candidate).

g) When talking to references, don’t trust anyone who can’t say what the candidate’s areas for improvement are. A genuine reference who knows the candidate will always be able to say what their weaknesses are.

h) Don’t overlook first time job seekers – they may not have experience but if their CV shows a strong desire to work in your field of business, consider taking them on as an intern for three months. South Africa has a major youth employment crisis yet most businesses insist on candidates having work experience. Small businesses are best positioned to take on first time jobseekers as the hands on training and small company size can help upskill first time jobseekers quickly. Giraffe is offering its service for free to exempted micro enterprises that are willing the take on first time jobseekers.

i) Don’t let the lack of a matric qualification put you off. Many South Africans are unable to get matric but that does not mean they are unable to work. These candidates are often the most willing to be given a chance to prove themselves.

By conducting phone interviews in the early phase of the interviewing process, you can save time and money.

3. Use screening tools to do the job for you

Your screening process should allow you to filter out candidates that do not meet the necessary criteria for the role. This task can be very labour intensive. We suggest using software tools that will help you reduce the administratively intensive part of sorting through CVs.

For instance, Giraffe’s job board automatically screens candidates as they apply. This way employers can easily filter out applicants that don’t meet the minimum criteria for the role.

4. Conduct phone interviews

By conducting phone interviews in the early phase of the interviewing process, you can save time and money that would otherwise be wasted on meeting unsuitable candidates face to face. Phone interviews also helps you significantly cut down on the recruiting costs. Even better, use tools that do the phone interview for you.
For example, Giraffe effectively does the first round phone interview for you- by asking candidates to submit a voice note when they apply for a new role. This gives the employer a much more nuanced view of the candidate before they decide to shortlist them.

Using technology like this can significantly reduce time wasted on irrelevant candidates and help streamline your recruitment process.

Using these four tactics will help you effectively screen candidates, help you find the best staff for your business, and  reduce the time and money you spend on recruitment, while ensuring you hire the best applicants.

About Giraffe: Giraffe is a job board that automatically screens candidates so you don’t have to. Giraffe enables South African businesses to recruit medium-skilled staff faster and more affordably than any other recruitment method. Because Giraffe has automated the boring parts of the recruitment process – candidate sourcing and screening – business owners and recruiters can focus on more important tasks like interviewing the best candidates and managing retention. Simply post a job on Giraffe. Let Giraffe automatically screen candidates as they apply. Log in, see which candidates have passed your screening, listen to their voice notes and hire the best ones!

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