Effectively Screening Job Candidates


As employers and recruiters, there is a natural tendency to go easy on job candidates, especially during the initial screening process. There is an odd culture of expecting cliché answers to cliché questions, none of which generate any real insight into a candidate or their suitability for a role.

The recruitment process needs to be rigorous from day one.

Of course the beginning of any recruitment campaign is hard work, but that’s why dealing with a good recruitment agency will help ease the burden. Never be complacent when you begin to recruit; it could cost much time and money, or even your reputation.

Don’t be afraid to play hardball. Recruitment agencies should deliver a selection of qualified and relevant candidates – however, you may still have to make a shortlist, which will mean further screening. Always apply a good dose of scrutiny. Fully understanding a candidate’s intentions and experience will help avoid both short-term and long-term problems. Ultimately, making your initial screening process tighter will improve the chances of hiring the right person, first time.

To help decide whether a candidate should advance to the interview stage, here are four factors to consider.


Is the candidate still employed elsewhere, and is the candidate ready to accept an offer of employment? If not, save the candidate’s details and keep them in mind for a future role. Be sure to ask the candidate “Are you available to interview immediately, and if so, are you able to start the job within X amount of time?”


Before asking a candidate to come in for an interview, make sure they fit the bill. Does the candidate’s experience meet the requirements of the role? This stage should be taken care of by your recruitment agency – but it’s always worth doing further investigation to see which candidates best match the job spec.


If a candidate is changing jobs, find out why. Ask yourself whether it’s a good enough reason to employ them. If not, you may be dealing with a proverbial tyre-kicker, which happens frequently in recruitment. There are a few exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking, most people only change jobs if there is a fundamental problem with their current employment.

If a candidate is motivated by money, are you offering enough to materially change the candidate’s lifestyle? If not, perhaps money is the candidate’s only motivation, which could spell trouble down the line. Not to say that money is unimportant, but employers benefit more from candidates who are motivated by their work and who have a passion for the company.


A person may be motivated to change jobs, but is there a real sense of urgency to do so? If not, you may find yourself shortlisting a serial interviewee. At its worst, this could mean offering a job, only for a candidate to turn it down, wasting precious time and money on recruitment. If you can’t find that sense of urgency, perhaps it’s best to consider someone else.

Vetting candidates needn’t be hard work. And regardless how simple or elaborate your screening process is, there’s really only one question that needs answering: “Is this candidate good enough to employ?”