Top Tips for Screening Potential Employees Large

Top Tips for Screening Potential Employees

January 28, 2020

Hiring employees is a great part of being an employer. It means your business is growing or you have the opportunity to fill openings with the perfect job seekers.

A lot of the time you may have many applicants, but there is a chance that they may not meet the job requirements. However, there is something that can be done to ensure you get the best applicants: Pre-screening. There are many ways to pre-screen applicants to reduce the number of unqualified applicants.

Job Posting

The best place to start is with your job posting. Use this as a chance to find out how people follow directions, use time management, and pay attention to detail. By asking for specific items in your posting, you can reduce the stack of applicants from the start. You might ask for an application, cover letter, and resume. If someone does not present all three items when applying, they are showing they may not be able to follow directions or have the attention to detail that you need. 


Applications are a great way to pre-screen. Applications can either be online or in a paper format. These, along with resumes, can provide insight into applicants right away. Always be sure your application follows Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) laws.

Asking for information such as education and work history is helpful because you can compare the information provided to what is on a resume to ensure everything matches up. Make sure that you also ask questions that you won't find on a resume to learn more about each applicant. Ask questions such as available work hours, start date availability, and special skills. 

If you use online applications, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) can be a great way to manage submissions. ATS software can be used not only to keep track of applications, but to automate part of the screening process. For example, you can set an ATS to only accept applications that followed your submission instructions. Read more about using ATS software in this article.


Resumes are a very common way to pre-screen applicants. You can use the information provided to look for qualifications, skills, training, and work history. There is also more indirect information available from resumes. You can see the applicant's attention to detail, organization style, professionalism, and even writing skills and style. All these things will tell you about the applicant's abilities and whether they may be a good fit for your company. 

Social Media

Social media is a new tool that can help shed light on potential employees. Checking social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. can let you see if the information you have been provided is in line with their social media presence. You can also see their online professionalism and if they will fit into the company culture. You may find what they post or share online is content that could potentially reflect badly on your company, so checking the online social media presence for potential employees is a great and FREE tool to use. 

However, be careful when doing this, as this could open you up to discrimination lawsuits. The info found on social media can identify a candidate's race, age, gender, religion, and other protected characteristics. Because of this, some companies avoid it so that they will not run the risk of this information affecting hiring decisions. Overall, you should strongly consider the pros and cons of social media screening.


Pre-interviews provide a faster, more efficient way to sit down with potential employees without having to set aside an hour in a conference room. You can schedule a phone or video (using Skype or similar tool) interview to get an opportunity to learn more about a potential employee.

Use this time to ask any questions you do not already have answered and to find out what the applicant may know about your company. If someone does not know what products or services you offer, this means they did not do research on your company prior to applying or scheduling the interview. This shows that they may not use initiative or problem-solving skills.

Pre-interviews are very common in hiring today, and with good reason. You can do more than one pre-interview, depending on who you need the candidate to screen with before you call them into the conference room. Pre-interviews may also be done by more than one interviewer.

In-Person Interview

This will be the final pre-screening tool you can use to find the right employee match. During the interview, you get the opportunity to sit down and talk with the potential employee about their skills, work experiences, and other skills they will bring to the job. They will also get the opportunity to see the work environment and ask any questions they may have. Listen to the questions employees ask, if they don't have any you may doubt their ability to think critically in certain circumstances.

All the ways you can learn about potential employees throughout the hiring process can provide you with insight into their character, work ethic, and history as well as their skills and personality. These things will help you decide if they are the perfect fit for your position and company. All of this will help you make an informed and confident decision about your next employee!

Some employers may conduct more than one in-person interview, but this depends on your company's needs and hiring situation.

Next Steps

If you're looking for more information about hiring, feel free to check out Illinois workNet's Hiring for Employers page. For other articles and resources, head to workNet's Tips, Tools, & Resources section and filter by "Fill job openings" under Guidance Scenarios.

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