With many people now working from home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the workplace has undergone some dramatic changes. In particular, companies have had to adapt their hiring practices to meet the demands of the new virtual landscape. More and more job interviews are being conducted via phone and video chat.

Since many hiring managers don’t get the chance to physically meet with candidates, it’s now more important than ever to properly screen candidates in order to make the right hiring decision. In this article, we’ll discuss what the screening process looks like from start to finish, and the things you should pay close attention to when screening potential hires.

Before You Start Hiring

Screening candidates consists of much more than running a simple background check. It’s a process that begins before you even create a job posting. As a hiring manager, you’ll have to consider a few things first before you jump into the hiring process, interview candidates, and, finally, make an offer. As a starting point, define your goals by contemplating the following questions with the rest of your team.

Define your goals

  • Why are you hiring right now?

Identify the reason that you’re hiring at this particular moment in time. It’s never a good idea to hire more people solely because you have the capital to do so. Maybe your team has been overwhelmed with their workload for a while now, or maybe you just landed a big client and you’ll need some more people to deal with the extra work. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to know why you’re hiring.

Additionally, take a look at your careers page. Does your website convey what kind of company you are?. Having a careers page that does not define your core values makes it hard for candidates that will fit your needs to apply to your company.

  • What do you want a new hire to accomplish?

Before creating a job posting, you should make it clear what you want a new hire to accomplish. Come up with a few concrete goals, both short- and long-term, that you expect a new hire to achieve. Try to anticipate the challenges that they’ll face and the best ways for them to learn. Knowing this information will make it easier to hire the right person for the job.

  • How will a new hire add value to the company?

Consider the key ways in which a new hire will contribute to your organization. Do you expect them to bring a unique or specific skill set to your company? Will they bring certain traits to the table that your company is currently lacking? Or will they just be an additional pair of hands to help out with the day-to-day work?

Come up with a plan

The next step in the pre-hiring screening process is to come up with a plan, or a hiring strategy. With a comprehensive hiring strategy in place, you’ll likely be able to do a better job of evaluating candidates and filtering out those applicants who aren’t a good match for the open role. Here are a few tips that can help you devise a hiring strategy that works:

  • Determine the criteria that you’ll be using to evaluate candidates you interview. This could take the form of a checklist or scorecard that provides some objective measure that you can use to compare candidates with one another, and judge how well-suited they are for the job. Of course this checklist doesn’t have to be—and shouldn’t be—the be-all and end-all of your hiring decision, but it can serve as a great evaluation tool.

  • Make one list of specific skills, traits, and experiences that are absolutely essential for a candidate to have in order to be considered for the job. Then make a second list of things that aren’t necessarily essential, but that you’d like to see in a candidate. This can help you weed out candidates who don’t have the qualifications you’re looking for.
  • Write a clear, detailed job description that outlines the responsibilities of the role and exactly what you’re looking for in a candidate. A good job description will help to prevent you from getting an overwhelming amount of applications, and filter out individuals who aren’t a good fit for the role.
  • Organize a hiring team that will take part in interviews and provide input that leads to a final hiring decision. Ideally, some of the people on the hiring team should be employees that the new hire will be working closely with.
  • Write down a list of questions that you’ll ask every candidate. While you can find dozens of standard interview questions online, try to come up with some on your own that are relevant to your particular company and the role that the candidate’s applying for.

Screening Candidates During the Hiring Process

Once you’ve defined your goals and created a hiring strategy, you can move on to the next step in the screening process. There are a number of measures you can take in order to screen candidates during the hiring process, either before or after they interview.

Run a background check

Background checks can help you to confirm that a candidate is who they say they are. A quick online background check is very affordable and a good investment in the long run. You can easily run a criminal background check, an identity verification check, a credit check, and more to ensure that you’re making the smart hiring decision.

Ask for references

When they apply, ask candidates to list a few references along with their contact information. Follow up with these references, ask about their relationship to the candidate, the character of the candidate, and any other questions that you feel will help you get a fuller picture of what the candidate is like.

Check social media

In the digital age we’re living in, you can find out a lot about a person just from going online. Although it may initially feel invasive checking a candidate’s social media accounts, remember that these are publicly posted profiles and if you can see them, then so can your clients and work associates. It’s a good idea to go over their social media accounts just to make sure they’re not publicly posting anything that you absolutely wouldn’t want your company to be associated with.

Give candidates an assessment

Although giving candidates an assessment may be a little more tricky when you’re hiring remotely, it’s still possible. Provide them with a short quiz or piece of work that will put their relevant skills to the test. This is especially important if you’re hiring for a more technical role, such as a software developer. After all, you want to verify that the candidate can actually do the job, and that they didn’t exaggerate the extent of their skills on their resume.

Some of these screening methods, such as skills assessment, are probably best administered before you even interview a candidate, since it would be a waste of time to interview a candidate who is unable to do the job. However, other methods, like a background check, should be the very last step of the screening process, seeing as it’s not financially savvy to pay to check every single candidate.

Benefits of Screening Potential Hires

Thoroughly screening potential hires is always a good idea because it’s important for any company to build a team of employees who are capable, trustworthy, and share similar values. As a hiring manager, you’ll get a more comprehensive view of a candidate when you properly screen them, thus enabling you to make a more informed hiring decision. Also, screening tools like background checks mitigate potential risks and make your company less susceptible to negligent hiring lawsuits that could arise if one of your employees causes harm to someone or demonstrates criminal negligence in some capacity.

Remember that a company is only as strong as the people who work there. So, before extending any offer to a potential hire, make sure to screen them, keeping the tips from this article in mind. With a full picture of a candidate and a greater amount of information at your disposal, you’ll be more likely to make a hiring decision that meets the needs of your organization, and bring on an individual who can help your team achieve its goals.

Author Bio:

Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is the managing editor for 365businesstips.com. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.

Ronald Gabriel is the Assistant Editor at Commerce Mentors. He has over 8 years of experience in writing about eCommerce, Retail, Marketing, and Technology. He is also a numbers guy who enjoys his Crossword and Sudoku. When not editing or writing, he can be found watching reruns of Animes and sketching some characters of his own.