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SME recruitment: How to screen candidates so you don’t make a hiring mistake

Hiring is both time consuming and costly. On average, manager’ report that it takes up to 52 days to fill a vacancy, and it costs them around R20k to recruit, screen and train each new staff member. This amounts to over 20% of the average annual salary! To ensure your recruitment strategy is efficient, inclusive and fair it’s critical you focus your efforts on creating a solid screening process that gets you the right staff an ensures you avoid hiring mistakes.

What is screening?

Companies use a screening process to evaluate a candidate’s background and qualifications, and eliminate unqualified candidates from the pool of applicants. An effective screening process allows companies to save both time and money by ensuring they minimise the amount of in-person interviews they conduct.

Screening candidates will include conducting background checks, sending applicants follow-up questions to answer, a brief phone screen, or other assessments to test an applicant’s qualifications.

A screening process will depend on the size of your company and the type of role for which you’re hiring, but it should include a few critical steps. Here, we’ll cover how you can run an effective screening process to ensure your strategy is as efficient and unbiased as possible.

Screening job applicants: The essentials for 2020

1. Write a clear job description that attracts the right candidates in the first place  

Writing a good job description can save you a tonne of time when it comes to screening job applicants. Clear and compelling job descriptions are particularly important for small businesses that don’t have the resources or capacity to sort through thousands of CVs.

>>Here is our step-by-step guide to writing a great job spec<<

Ultimately, it’s critical you ensure your job description allows you to correctly identify qualified candidates from the start, while enabling you to attract the widest pool of applicants possible.

2. Look out for red flags in candidate CVs

Screening candidate CVs effectively is essential. It’s important to spot any red flags that might indicate a bad candidate:

  1. Watch out for spelling, formatting and presentation mistakes. Although not essential for all roles, good spelling and grammar indicates a good education
  2. Check how many times the candidate has changed jobs in the last year. Candidates who change job regularly are unlikely to stay long with your company resulting in the need to replace and retrain
  3. Avoid candidates with long unexplained gaps in their work experience history- always ask why there was a long gap
  4. Avoid candidates who have been out of work for more than 6 months without a good explanation. The longer someone is out of work, the harder it is for them to adapt to a working environment.
  5. Avoid candidates who don’t provide references.
  6. Make sure you get at least two references (that are not the friends of the candidate)
  7. When talking to references, don’t trust any who can’t say what the candidate’s areas for improvement are. A genuine reference who knows the candidate will always be able to say what their weaknesses are.
  8. Don’t overlook first time job seekers- they may not have experience but if their CV shows a strong desire to work in your field of business, consider taking them on as an intern for 3 months. South Africa has a major youth employment crisis yet most businesses insist on candidates having work experience. Small businesses are best positioned to take on first time jobseekers as the hands on training and small company size can help upskill first time jobseekers quickly. Giraffe is offering its service for free to exempted micro enterprises that are willing to take on first time jobseekers.
  9. Don’t let the lack of a matric put you off. Many South Africans are unable to get a matric but that does not mean they are unable to work. These candidates are often the most willing to be given a chance to prove themselves.

3. Use screening tools to do the job for you  

Your screening process should allow you to filter out candidates that do not meet the necessary criteria for the role. This task can be very labour intensive! We suggest using tools that will help you reduce the administratively intensive part of sorting through CVs. 

For instance, Giraffe’s candidate sourcing and screening tool automatically screens candidates as they apply. This way employers can easily filter out applicants that don’t meet the minimum criteria for the role.  

4. Conduct phone interviews  

By conducting phone interviews in the early phase of the interviewing process, you can save time and money that would otherwise be wasted on meeting unsuitable candidates face to face. Phone interviews also helps you significantly cut down on the recruiting costs. Even better, use tools that do the phone interview for you.

For example, Giraffe effectively does the first round phone interview for you- by asking candidates to submit a voice note when they apply for a new role. This give the employer a much more nuanced view of the candidate before they decide to shortlist them. Using technology like this can significantly reduce time wasted on irrelevant candidates and help streamline your recruitment process. 

Using these four tactics will help you effectively screen candidates. Find the best staff for your business. It will also reduce the time and money you spend on recruitment, while ensuring you hire the best applicants.  

About Giraffe

Giraffe is a job platform that automatically screens candidates so you don’t have to. Giraffe enables South African businesses to recruit medium-skilled staff faster and more affordably than any other recruitment method. Because Giraffe has automated the boring parts of the recruitment process– candidate sourcing and screening– business owners and recruiters can focus on more important tasks like interviewing the best candidates and managing retention. Simply post a job on Giraffe. Let Giraffe automatically screen candidates as they apply. Log in, see which candidates have passed your screening, listen to their voice notes and hire the best ones! 

To post a job on Giraffe click here

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