Filtering Applicants to Interview

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Now that you’ve sent job descriptions and help wanted ads, you have a wave of responses, but don’t know what to do next. Now that you have candidates to choose from, it is important to begin determining which ones you want to interview, and which ones you don’t. This filtering process allows you to see which candidates deserve a personal interview based on their skills or attributes while removing the ones that do not.

Put Lots of Weight on Cover Letters

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Although the cover letter is often forgotten, it is an important introduction for any person looking to apply for a job. As a hiring manager, you know it can be annoying to receive countless resumes sent to an email inbox or through the mail without a cover or adequate contact information. More companies are putting more stress on a good cover letter, so feel free to jump on the bandwagon. A cover letter is a chance for potential employees to freely write a summary about themselves, including a brief summary of skills and previous jobs. 

It allows them to use their own ‘voice’ and show their personality outside of the bullet lists on the resume. Sometimes it shows if the candidate has rushed through the letter or if they have possibly forgotten to include information, which can give some doubt, but should still be looked into. If a candidate neglects the cover letter, it should send up a red flag right away. Was the person in a hurry? Were they too lazy to write one? Do they know how to write one?

Remember: No cover letter = No interview

Grading Resumes

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Many employees do not realize the importance of a well thought out and tailored resume, but a resume is one of the first impressions you will get from them. When reviewing, or ‘grading’, resumes, check for easy readability and flow of the document. On a closer look, check for typos and grammatical errors, since these are very unprofessional and do not reflect well on the candidate. 

Does the candidate’s resume match the position they are applying for? If you are hiring for a sales clerk, are they giving you their qualifications from their accounting position? The candidate usually lists an array of jobs and skill sets they possess, but don’t let it overwhelm you or fool you into thinking they are the perfect fit. Remember what the position calls for (tasks, duties, responsibilities) and review the resume for these key needs. If they display these characteristics, in plain sight, it is a good indication to extend an interview.

Internet Search

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Sadly, the Internet is forever and it cannot hide our true selves sometimes. Many job seekers forget about this when they go out into the working world and go looking for employment. Google will allow you to search a person’s name for information and photos, although other sites such as Bing.com or Yahoo.com can produce some of the same results. But be warned that while it is a good source of information, it can give you the good, the bad, and even the ugly. 

While some candidates can have distasteful photos from parties and events (which can make a hiring manager think twice about their ability to focus or come to work the next day), others may simply lack any kind of Internet presence (such as a lack of social media, blogs or club sites). On the other hand, a search result may show you evidence of past awards, professional Twitter accounts or photos from a volunteer project. Since you never know what a search will produce, don’t let it be the deciding factor when it comes to hiring the person. Use it as a tool to gauge what kind of personality they have and what kind of presence they have online. If you want to pursue the candidate, invite them for an interview and keep your findings on the back burner.

Initial Phone Interview

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Phone interviews are a great way to gain a first live impression of a candidate. Not only do they save time by reducing the number of people coming and going to the office, but they can allow you to feel more prepared when asking questions. Prepare a set of questions you want to ask and take notes on their responses. This information can come in handy when discussing the candidate with other hiring personnel and want to have someone else review their qualifications. These types of interviews are a great way to introduce the candidate to the position and allow them to have a lot of the information up front. If the candidate decides the job is not for them, they can let you know right away so they do not waste a trip into the office.  If the initial phone interview goes well, bring them in for a face-to-face interview to look into their qualifications further. 

When conducting the interview, listen for signs of poor communication, such as incorrect grammar, frequent uhhh’s or ummm’s , or a lack of listening and replying. If the person cannot hold a professional conversation over the phone, it can send up a red flag about how they will communicate within the office. Candidates who have bad phone manners can indicate a lack of manners in person as well. If you decide this person is not right for the job after speaking with them, this is the best time to let them know so that you can continue with your search without wasting their time, or yours.

Case Study

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Kay was busy trying to hire a nurse to work the night shift at a nursing home. In her job description she asked for a cover letter, a resume, and school credentials. The candidates that did not include a cover letter or school information were automatically discarded, since she felt like these candidates could not follow directions. She further reviewed resumes for errors such as typos or grammar use and checked the Internet for any additional information or photos. 

Kay was able to narrow it down to three candidates and decided to conduct a phone interview before bringing them into the office. The first candidate decided the job was not for her when she reviewed the salary range, so Kay crossed her off the list. The second applicant noisily chewed gum while talking and seemed distracted by a television in the background, so Kay crossed her off as well. The last candidate spoke well with Kay and had a lot of information to offer, so Kay invited her in for a face-to-face interview. She was happy with her decision and was glad she was able to save some time as well!