Once you have published your job posting, the applicants should be rolling in. You will likely get a lot of candidates, and the number may feel overwhelming at first. This week, we will look at how to narrow this candidate pool into a manageable list.
In an ideal world, you would have the time and resources to interview all interested candidates. You may even be feeling FOMO (fear of missing out) at the idea of narrowing your list of candidates. There may be exceptional candidates whose qualities do not shine through on paper. What if these “golden candidates” get lost in the cut?
There is no way to determine the best candidate with 100% accuracy. Remember that any new hire can be onboarded and mentored to become a perfect fit. As with all things in your career, you must do your best with the resources you have.
Your first step will be to determine how many candidates you can interview. Consider the following when determining how many applicants should be selected:
- The size of your hiring team
- The timeline for selecting a candidate
- Your existing schedule
- Any post-interview follow-ups
From these factors, come up with a realistic number of candidates you can accommodate. Now it is time to narrow down your existing candidate pool.
We will be looking at six factors you should consider when selecting your candidates.
Start with your most obvious criteria. This is the fundamental requirements for your position. Often, this will be any required certifications, background checks or language competencies. If a candidate fails to meet fundamental requirements for the job posting, it is probably best to look elsewhere.
Next, narrow down your list of candidates to those who have experience/training in all core skills required for the position.
You may, however, find a few candidates that stand out, but do have all the core skills. Maybe a candidate is bilingual but is not trained in an easy-to-learn software. In this case create a separate pile for “stand out” candidates. Once you have narrowed your list to the finalists, revisit these candidates and consider if you want to accommodate a couple extra interviews.
Once you have a pool of candidates with the necessary core skills, look at the “asset” skills. These are skills that are not necessary to the position but would further contribute to your team’s success. Your job posting should have a list of skills you would like, so start there.
Rank the asset skills before looking at what the candidates have to offer. Not all asset skills are equally valuable to the position, so consider which ones will take priority in your search.
If you have a large pool of candidates with similar experience on their résumés, take a closer look at the details in each application. In our Optimized Jobseeker series, we discussed how important it is to back up your experience with concrete details. Candidates who can back up their advertised skills with specifics are likely to be more reliable than those with vague qualifications.
Your candidate’s LinkedIn profile can provide insight into their professional reputation. See what skills they boast, and which ones are endorsed by their colleagues. They may also have some completed LinkedIn Learning courses on their profile that will give you a better idea as to what they offer.
Make sure that what they post is professional and appropriate. If they use LinkedIn to blog, see how they articulate their thoughts.
Of course, a LinkedIn profile should not be a make-or-break factor in hiring. There are plenty of valuable candidates who simply do not have much of an online presence. For some jobs, this discretion may even be an asset.
If you are struggling to narrow down your list, you may want to ask for the advice of your colleagues. This is especially helpful if you have sought their advice for the initial job posting. They may be able to pull you out of your own tunnel vision by offering a fresh perspective from another area in your workplace.
To prevent potential bias and exercise discretion, remove any personal information from your applicants’ résumés before consulting coworkers.