Online Screening: Adding Screening Tools To Your Online Recruiting Strategy

The first two installments of this series have concentrated on providing useful background information about the process of online screening. The first article focused on presenting reasons why screening is an effective anchor for an online recruiting strategy, while the second zoomed in on issues related to the more complex topic of scientific screening. Although the first two articles have just barely scratched the surface of a set of very complex topics, I hope that they have provided readers with some useful background on the “nuts and bolts” of online screening. In keeping with this mission, the next installment is intended to help readers begin to navigate the process of adding some form of screening to their online recruiting efforts. But before getting into the matter at hand, it’s important to understand that every company interested in using online screening will have a unique situation, created by such organizational factors as the level of existing technology, the size of the company, the job reqs for which screening is being considered, etc. This unique combination of factors will certainly impact the process of choosing a system best suited for your situation and organization. Rather than undertaking the impossible task of trying to cover each type of situation that you may be faced with when adding screening, the goal of this article is to provide some rough guidelines to help you approach this process effectively. Begin With a Clear Understanding of Your Goals The first step in any online screening process is making sure everyone involved has a clear understanding of your goals for screening. Doing so will allow you to assess how realistic your goals are given the world you are operating in. One way of doing this is by examining your goals in relation to the following parameters: Parameter 1: Ask, “Where are we NOW?” It’s very important to understand where your organization is in the process of adopting online recruiting technology. Are you an early adopter, with a great website linked to a great ATS system used religiously by recruiters who love technology? Or are you still having all candidates email resumes to one person’s address? Either way, a good “where are we now” analysis begins with the following:

  • An audit of your existing careers website. This is the foundation of your online recruiting strategy. If your website does not clearly convey an “employment brand” to visitors and does not offer them an entertaining experience in an easy-to-use interface, then perhaps you’re not ready for online screening. The best candidates are likely to have high expectations for your website, and if you cannot meet these standards, applicants will be much less likely to apply. Making sure your site is up to par will give you more bang for your buck than adding screening to a site that cannot keep applicants interested and fails to offer them an easy way to apply for jobs at your company.
  • An audit of your existing applicant flow process. It is also critical that you clearly understand your present online recruiting process. Look at all you are doing from a systems perspective and get an idea of where glitches are occurring. This involves mapping out all processes and looking at things such as what level of technology you are using, where the critical disconnects are occurring, and what internal users think about the effectiveness of the system. If your existing system is failing to do its job, adding screening to the mess is not going to solve anything ? unless the mess exists only because you don’t have screening in the first place.

Parameter 2: Understand why you’re interested in screening It is important to understand why you are interested in adding screening to your online hiring process. Is it due to a specific situation such as turnover? Is it because you are interested in building a comprehensive online human capital management system? The answers to these questions will help determine what direction you are going to take in terms of your screening initiative. For instance, if you have a specific goal in mind, like reducing turnover or staffing an entire sales organization for a new business unit, then scientific screening will be a great way to identify competencies that are critical to getting the right folks in the right place. But if your goals are more in terms of just getting the right resume to the right person or identifying minimum skills to make resume filtering easier, you may want to make sure your nonscientific screening process is firmly in place before considering scientific screening. Parameter 3: Support It’s important that you identify the champion of your online recruiting efforts. Where does the push to add screening stop? Who is on board with adding screening and who do you have to sell on the idea? If you don’t have the support you need to install an enterprise-wide solution, you must decide either to gather more or scale back your project. Remember that, without support from the highest level, you’re asking for trouble. It is also critical to understand that the end users of the system are also critical stakeholders in the process. If the culture among recruiters will not support the use of the system, the best system in the universe will not make any impact on the bottom line. Parameter 4: Resources It’s critical to know the resources you have to throw at this kind of project. How much time do you have, how much money do you have, how many people will be impacted by this process, how many jobs are going to be affected? This is all critical information to know before moving forward. The answers to these questions will allow you to clearly understand critical points such as your budget, time frame, etc. Comparison of Goals to Parameters Now that you have gathered information related to each of the four parameters, adjourn to the whiteboard and make two major columns, one for goals and one for parameters. Take a look at how well what you are seeking to accomplish fits with the parameters defined by your present organizational reality. This process should help you to identify problematic issues right away and will help prevent you from getting in over your head. Tweak and adjust the information in your goals column to match your parameters, or decide what needs to happen so that you can change the parameters that are going to define your ability to meet your goals. Once you have built a good foundation based on realistic goals, you are ready to begin making some decisions about the direction you will take. Again, each situation is different, but I will try and provide some BASIC guidelines to help you think about these issues. Basic guidelines for Non-Scientific Screening Nonscientific screening usually exists as functionality that is built into an ATS or candidate management system. This type of screening helps you get the right candidate to the right place and to install basic tactics to reduce resume overload, based on simple but critical information such as, “Is the candidate willing to relocate?” or “Is the candidate certified in Java?” If you do not presently have screening of any kind built into your online hiring process, my humble opinion is that you should add this type of screening first. This basic capability should really help to improve your online hiring process. If you’re already using an ATS system that has screening capabilities, make sure you’re using these capabilities to their fullest. This may require additional training of recruiters, but a small investment in making sure personnel are using your system its fullest can offer an easy, inexpensive way to improve your process. In general, focusing on non-scientific screening solution is most appropriate when:

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  • Your existing technology includes screening capabilities that you are not using correctly
  • You are new to the online hiring game and want to proceed slowly
  • You are updating your hiring process by adding an ATS system
  • There is a need to increase the speed of your hiring process
  • There is a basic need for quality control of applicants
  • You have noticed that recruiters are doing a poor job identifying good candidates using resumes
  • Specific jobs require basic must-haves (e.g., willingness to relocate, college degree, etc.)

Basic guidelines for Scientific Screening Scientific screening is usually offered as an ASP or product/system linked to a consulting practice. These systems are meant to help assess members of a specific pool of candidates for a given position. Usually, scientific screening is not a tool that is offered by ATS system providers (there are some exceptions here). These systems are often packaged as standalones. They will almost always require some form of integration into your existing hiring system. But the fact that these systems are not usually tied to giant enterprise-wide systems can offer you an advantage in many situations. For instance, if you need to hire a select group of people with a very defined skill set, it is much easier to work with an ASP provider to quickly set up a very effective scientific screening process than it is to install an ATS system and integrate this technology. Scientific screening is also an excellent addition to an existing nonscientific screening system. Although there are a few exceptions, scientific and non-scientific screening are rarely packaged in the same system or even available from the same vendor. This is changing, however, and the future offers some exciting possibilities for integration. XML is providing a major boost in this area, because it allows systems to pass data back and forth in a manner that makes customized, multi-vendor solutions much more feasible. The future will see more alliances that give ATS providers the ability to add scientific screening to their offerings. In general, it’s best to focus on scientific screening when:

  • Hiring for jobs with clearly defined must-have competencies that will make or break an applicant?s ability to do a job
  • Facing situations where you are experiencing a major problem such as turnover
  • Hiring for more advanced jobs
  • Soft skills such as dependability are critical
  • Your non-scientific screening is failing to identify the best candidates
  • You are interested in using screening as one part of a comprehensive, competency-based development, talent management or leadership management program.

Hopefully, this information will at least get you started figuring out where your needs fall. The important thing is to start with the basics and don?t overextend yourself. If you want to go from nothing to everything, consider a phased approach that will at least get you some screening up and running short term, while adding bells and whistles with in the long term. The value of going from nothing to something is higher than that of tweaking a system that is already providing ROI.

Dr. Charles Handler is a thought leader, analyst, and practitioner in the talent assessment and human capital space. Throughout his career Dr. Handler has specialized in developing effective, legally defensible employee selection systems. 

Since 2001 Dr. Handler has served as the president and founder of Rocket-Hire, a vendor neutral consultancy dedicated to creating and driving innovation in talent assessment.  Dr. Handler has helped companies such as Intuit, Wells Fargo, KPMG, Scotia Bank, Hilton Worldwide, and Humana to design, implement, and measure impactful employee selection processes.

Through his prolific writing for media outlets such as, his work as a pre-hire assessment analyst for Bersin by Deloitte, and worldwide public speaking, Dr. Handler is a highly visible futurist and evangelist for the talent assessment space. Throughout his career, Dr. Handler has been on the forefront of innovation in the talent assessment space, applying his sound foundation in psychometrics to helping drive innovation in assessments through the use of gaming, social media, big data, and other advanced technologies.

Dr. Handler holds a M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Louisiana State University.