Digitalizing Recruitment - Part 4: Screening

Viktor Nordmark
18 November, 2020

In the 1970’s, your resume had to include your age, weight and other personal details. Since then we’ve seen a rapid development of both ethics and technology in the screening aspect of the recruitment process, and within hiring as a whole. Screening is known to be time-consuming, expensive and complex, but if anything, it’s fun! Because this is your first, actual encounter with the candidates. This article aims at describing how you, with help of digital tools, move further away from biases and how the tools make your life more manageable and efficient.

What is screening?

After you’ve successfully sourced candidates, you begin the pre-employment screening process, which is the act of validating candidate profiles against the given requirement by the internal or external client. The requirements entail skill-sets, experience and qualifications, as well as cultural fit. Whereas validating these requirements entails everything from; a first phone-call to conducting interviews to having the candidate do personality tests. For many jobs, the candidate has to go through with skill-assessments, which is a way of ensuring that the candidates actually are knowledgeable in their field, such as; languages, coding and sales skills.


Screening in the past

Back in the days, the only way for people to find jobs was to scour through the newspapers for job-ads, faxing resumes, physically handing in their typewriter written resumes and if lucky, have a good network that could put you in contact with “the right people”. It was an employer’s market and thus it was very difficult for people to attain information from companies regarding open positions. But if you managed to get in contact with companies and pass the first manual resume screening, you received a phone call during which you were asked to come in for an interview, an interview that mainly revolved around your skills and experience. During the 80’s, the interview format started to become a bit more psychologically advanced, instead of asking only for job-experience, the questions were more situational e.g; “how did you act in situation x and why?”. But there was still no sign of personality tests, skill-assessments or anything else that could validate your actual knowledge. During the 90’s, the Internet entered everyday life and although far from everyone had a PC, you could still go to the library, rent a computer and search and apply for jobs on the few job-sites that existed.

Without becoming too political, factors that influenced whether you got a job or not was, amongst many, a strong patriarchal system that was at its peak and so whilst men were soaring around on top-levels, women were mainly getting jobs as secretaries and assistants. White men in power positions also lead to hierarchic workplaces where minorities were nowhere to be seen. It was more of a “my kin or no one” kind of vibe, which resulted in nepotism and cronyism (being in favor of friends and trusted acquaintances). Why are we talking about this? Because the future of screening is the opposite of the above and digital tools are starting to, and will continue to, play a huge role in downplaying discrimination of any kind.

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How to Digitalize Screening

In order for you to be able to shortlist the top talent more efficiently, you can make use of softwares and artificial intelligence (AI). Based on the candidates you have sourced, these tools help you determine who should proceed to a more thorough assessment. We’ll go through what kind of tools that are available, why they’re important and how they help you in being an unbiased recruiter.

Automated Resume Screening

The number of applications you receive for a single job ad can be daunting considering the time it takes for you to go through them all. Perhaps you’re using an ATS that allows you to filter from specific keywords. But when you have 200 resumes at hand, that functionality falls short. What you can do is to integrate an artificial intelligence tool into your ATS, or use a standalone AI tool. The AI is more advanced than the ATS because you can tell it exactly what you’re looking for in a person based on keywords, education and experience, the AI then “reads” the resumes itself and offers you a list of all the candidates. The difference being, the AI offers you a ranked list, e.g it tells you which one of the candidates is the most qualified for the position. The coolest part is that the AI can also explain its reasoning behind its choices which simplifies your own decision-making. On average, a tool like this frees up 4 hours per workday.

Another, very important, advantage of this is that you can make the candidates anonymous by telling the AI to avoid all data points which reveal name, gender, age and ethnicity. In return, you’ll make a more unbiased decision when you decide who to interview since you’ll only take their skills and experiences into account.

The AI will also, slowly but surely, become smarter based on the data it is given and will be able to give you more accurate predictions as time progresses. See it as your smart, techy assistant that simplifies your own decision-making and quality of hire. If you want to go more into depth of AI screening tools and their functions, go ahead and read:

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How do you decide which resume screening tool to go for?

It all depends a bit on which industry you’re hiring for. If you’re used to getting over a hundred resumes for each position, then it’s wise to go for a more hefty AI-driven tool with more functionalities. Otherwise, go for the cheaper option that helps you with solely ranking the candidates.


Interviews

Due to COVID-19, most of us meet more people online than offline and, if we may assume, you’re now conducting online interviews more than you ever have before, which can be tricky because you lose a lot of a person’s “vibe” when you meet online. Therefore, it could be wise to make use of tools that enhance your own ability to decipher who is the most suitable hire.


Conversational Chatbots

Just as the AI-driven tools mentioned before, these chatbots are meant to do an initial screening of the candidate via chatting and lend you a hand in which candidates you should be taking a closer look at. You use these chatbots after you’ve screened resumes, as a way for you to get more insight before you conduct an actual face-to-face interview.

How does it work?

Well, you provide the chatbot with a description of the; position, required skills and experience. You send a link to the candidates and they start chatting with the bot. During the conversation, the chatbot will, for example, ask the candidate about past experiences, salary, as well as, and if needed, conduct skill-assessments within linguistics and programming. When the interviews are finalized, you’ll receive a shortlist with the candidates the chatbot find to be most suitable. Same goes for this; this is a more unbiased evaluation of a person than you could provide.

It’s the optimal way of getting a first impression, without having to spend time on scheduling an appointment, nor typing all the information yourself. It reduces time-to-fill and increases the quality of hire. The less expected perks of this type of chatbot is that you’ll get an idea of how eager the candidates are to land the job. Who did the interview immediately? Who waited till the last day? How elaborate were their answers? During a real interview, almost everyone can make themselves seem better than they are, but with this format, it’s difficult to fake.

How to implement it into your daily workflow?

Start by getting an understanding of in which ways this tool would augment your work. Count on how much time you would save and base the ROI off of that. If it seems worthwhile, conduct a quick market research of the available tools; the functionalities they provide, the prize and the subscription method. We advise you to request a demo from the provider of the tool. Demos are great because you’ll learn more, faster, and you get in contact with a person who works at the company, which always feels better if you were to encounter bugs and would be in need support. Since conversational chatbots are our jam, try it out and let us demo Hubert for you.  


AI-driven Video Interviews

A relatively new player on the field are AI-driven video interviews. The gist of it is that the candidate is being video-recorded during the interview as it is being asked questions by the AI. During the interview the AI reads facial expressions, tone of voice and analyzes the responses. This is complex machine learning but all in all, what it does is to mimic you without you having to be there. However, because the AI can see and hear the person, it’s debatable how unbiased it manages to be.

After the interviews are done with, you’ll receive a shortlist of the candidates deemed worthy of further consideration.

These tools are great if you tend to recruit people across borders, because you’ll receive more insight in who they are than you would from a text-based AI interview.

Assessment Tools

Google “Recruitment assessment tools” and you’ll be rewarded with so many that you’ll have a hard time choosing. If you’re not familiar with assessment tools, they are an efficient way of assessing and validating people’s skills and personalities, or, cognitive abilities, if you prefer. Say you’re mainly recruiting engineers, then you’ll be happy to know there’s a tool for assessing engineers only. And if you often recruit for the same positions, then it’s definitely worth investing in one of these skill-assessment tools due to the fact that you don't ever have to second-guess their skills.

Regarding personality assessment tools, these may be a tad more important if you’re hiring for more top-level positions since the person needs to be stress-tolerant, good with people and intelligent. However, there are simplified tests out there that also provide you with deeper insight into a person.

Take a look at your hiring timeline and see when the assessments can take place. Important to note, make sure you account for the time it takes to get the test-results back.


Screening is a complex endeavor and that’s why all these tools exist, because it is a lot for one person (or a small team) to evaluate who is a good cultural fit and what kind of person someone is. Let the tools act as support  in your own decision-making as well as help you gain valuable time.

Viktor Nordmark
18 November, 2020

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