Why the Candidate Screening Process is an Important Step in the Hiring Process!

If you’ve ever hired the wrong person,  you know just how costly and time consuming it can be to recruit, onboard, and train a new team member only to have them leave within the first few months and start the process all over again.

Allowing unqualified candidates to slip through your screening processes and reach the evaluation stage (which is more resource and financially consuming) is a common and costly process mistake.  Candidate screening and candidate evaluation are two different steps in a smart hiring process – and each one has its own goals and methodologies.

Candidate screening centers around making sure the candidate you are going to be evaluating down the road has the required qualifications to do the job, has none of the relevant knockout factors, and has a good possibility of being that “just right fit”.

The screening process, which precedes a more thorough evaluation process, must effectively eliminate candidates that if not detected, can clutter up your candidate landscape and burn your hiring resources without adding value.

In most screening processes, unqualified candidates are blatantly obvious and can be quickly taken out of consideration. With so many job seekers on the market, screening down to the candidate who is potentially the right fit is more difficult.

Here are some mistakes we see employers make that often results in an unqualified candidate appear qualified.

Candidates are evaluated solely on their past performance, without considering the relevancy of that performance to the job they are applying for. 

While strong past performance in a similar job is the strongest evidence of a candidate’s ability to perform in the role you are hiring for, screeners have to be clear about what factors are most relevant to future job performance.   The job of the screener is to closely compare the work environments of the two jobs, the volume of work performed, the level of support given for the work, the definitions of success the two roles had in common (or not).

The screeners have obvious biases. 

Who’s hasn’t been charmed by a candidate with a great resume or an easy to be around personality.  People make snap judgments all the time. These instant assessments that happen when we attribute a person’s looks or their interview behavior to other  admirable qualities rather than their actual work experience that aligns with the position and your business needs can easily turn an unqualified candidate into a candidate finalist.

Flag the Flags

Red flags can obviously display an unqualified candidate early on. For example, the candidate is late to the interview or the candidate doesn’t match the some of the skills listed on the resume. Pay attention to pink flags to catch the unqualified candidates that may have slipped by!

Pay close attention the candidate’s work history, how long did they stay in each role? The screeners job is to identify the candidate’s motivators – their reasons for taking and leaving their past jobs?  Finding out what they liked or didn’t like about each role to see if their work preferences align with the job they are trying to fill.

Knockout Factors

A candidate’s perfect skills and experience may qualify them for the position, but external factors can disqualify them! Some external factors will make even the most committed employees not be good choices for hire.   Is their personal circumstance stable or are they about to move out of the area?  If you require time in the office, even for a few days a week, what is their commute?

Rethink Referrals

It’s important to never underestimate the power of a simple referral. It’s likely that the great people within your network know other great people. But don’t pass over in-depth evaluation just because the referral comes from someone you highly regard! Separating the skills and experience from a great endorsement is crucial.

Passing on the candidate now but keeping them in your pipeline for the future role they are actually qualified for is better than hiring them for the wrong role now and letting them go!

Supervisory References

If a qualified candidate can’t come up with supervisory references, they shouldn’t be considered qualified! With over 85% of job applicants lying on resumes, trust but verify is the name of the game. Be sure to request supervisor (not peer) references who can speak to the candidate’s skill set and verify their performance and achievements. Unqualified candidates can be identified with references, whether it is the content of the information the reference provides or the simple fact that the candidate is unwilling or seems uneasy with providing supervisor references or references from a variety of their previous positions.

Here at PACE, supervisory reference checks are a foundational principle of our hiring process.


PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 40 years.

A 4-time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation, PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction.

PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditions, direct hire professional recruiting services, Employer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

To learn more about how partnering with PACE will make a difference to how you find and hire employees,  contact our Partner Services and Solutions team at 425-637-3312, email us or visit our website.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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