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Best Practices for Screening Candidates

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Inger Larsen photo Only one thing is certain about the procedure of screening and interviewing candidates: the huge variation in processes.  But, through the years there is one that we have found to be fair, thorough (while being fairly quick), involves the right people, and (most importantly) the end decision will be one that both the company and the new hire are highly likely to be happy with.

What follows are our best practices for screening candidates. 

1. Define the interview process.

Who will give input, who will be involved in the interviews, where will they be, and what are the criteria for selecting a successful candidate?

2. Develop good job and person specification.

This has the advantage that everyone knows what this person will be doing and key people in the company can give their input - with the added bonus that this can also be used for assessing performance in the future. For the person specification, are you looking for leaders or followers, someone who is inspired or inspiring?

3. Create a set list of interview questions.

Be fair on the candidates and don't leave important questions to chance. Get input from colleagues as well.

Here is a list of commonly used, generic questions:

4. Conduct a first round interview.

Do a first-round interview with the hiring manager (or HR representative or consultant) to shortlist who will move on to the next step.

5. Include verbal and numerical reasoning tests and consider other psychometric tests.

These are quick, inexpensive, and can be done online. Unsuitable candidates can be objectively and consistently screened out earlier in the recruitment process. You may also want to include other psychometric tests, for instance an online Occupational Personality test. These will help you to identify for instance natural sales people or strong finishers.

Here is a list of commonly used online tests, available in many languages:

6. Invite successful candidates back for a second interview.

Make sure that the right people are involved: the hiring manager if they have not been involved before, typically at least one senior manager, and one or more peers.

This doesn't just add to the comfort-factor and a democratic selection method, it also means that the people who have given their thumbs up for the candidate will be supportive of him and her in the future (as it is in human nature that none of us likes to be wrong).

This is a great opportunity to discuss the result of the online tests, and also any relevant, work-related tests.

7. Make your informed choice!

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