CV Screening: How to Effectively Assess Job Applications

cv screening on laptop

It is no secret that the job market has become increasingly crowded and competitive. While this is encouraging news for most employers who are in desperate need of new employees, sometimes it gets too much for them as well. With the never-ending sea of CVs, it becomes difficult to decide on the right candidate, especially when they all have similar skills and experience. According to Ideal, 52 percent of talent acquisition leaders say the most difficult part of their job is screening the right candidates from a large applicant pool.

If you want to learn how your job application is reviewed, this article has you everything you need to know about the screening process.

What is CV screening?

Recruitment always involves the evaluation of skills, knowledge and abilities of a given job candidate and the most common type of assessment is CV screening. CV screening is the process of sorting through CVs to disqualify candidates. It helps to determine whether a candidate is qualified for a role based on his or her education, experience and other essential information included on their CV.

Why is it important?

A wrong hire could result in a time-consuming and costly situation. If an employee does not meet expectations at a later stage or prove unreliable, this is a huge loss for an employer who wants to make sure he/she is recruiting the best candidate for the position. CV screening helps with the analysis and verification of data relating to work experience, education and other qualifications and can determine if the person in question is the most suitable or risk-free candidate.

How do you screen a CV?

There are many ways to screen CVs to minimise the chances of a bad hire.

1. Use an ATS

Studies report that at least half of jobseekers don’t possess the basic qualification for the jobs they are applying for. With the help of Applicant Tracking Systems, employers filter out the candidates whose skills and experience don’t match the job requirements, so that they never even have to see them. If your CV doesn’t include the right keywords or isn’t tailored to the position you are applying for, it will probably never make it to the employers’ hands.

2. Create YES/NO piles

One of the most time-effective strategies that recruiters use is dividing the CVs into piles. Since the majority of CVs are received via email or through a recruitment system, they will be sorted into digital folders. Each employer does this differently depending on what they choose to give priority, whether it’s skills or experience. So they might create folders that say ‘must-haves’, ‘definitely yes’, definitely no’ or even ‘maybes’. This helps to make the pile smaller.

3. Examine your CV closely

The first thing employers look at when they get your CV in their hands is presentation - format and style are the two elements that stand out. Employers also take a good look at the structure, the order in which the information is presented to get your name, contact details, work history and employment dates.

If they are interested in you, they won’t stop there. They also assess the content to see how well you can communicate with short sentences and bullet points and further analyse your work history and skills to find out if you have what they are looking for.

4. Check for mistakes

When they are examining the content, it becomes much easier for them to spot any grammatical errors, spelling mistakes or anything that doesn’t quite fit. More specifically they look at possible career gaps, inconsistent dates, drastic career changes, decline in responsibility from one role to another and lots of relocation in a short period of time. This helps employers make sense of what you have done in your past, any accomplishments or milestones, as well as your career path and what your career goals are.

5. Utilise skills tests

Some employers use skills testing to filter out additional candidates. It helps to make sure that the candidates have what it takes for the job by providing an objective measure of a candidate’s abilities. After they have short-listed applicants using the ATS, they invite them to complete a skills test and use those results to make a decision.

Depending on what the job criteria is, employers decide on the type of test to use. GreatBizTools offers a couple of examples that test perceptual, verbal, math skills, cognitive skills, visual skills and keyboard skills.

6. Focus on accomplishments

Employers give priority to applicants who show what they have accomplished in their previous jobs. An accomplishment-focused CV is much more powerful than a CV that simply refers to job duties - employers love concrete results. Numbers, data, achievements, grades, success and performance will help you stand out from the crowd.

7. Ask you to solve a problem

The most demanding employers require candidates to solve problems to show evidence of skills and knowledge. So, they might present you with a dilemma or a problem related to the field or the job you are applying for. More specifically, they will be looking to see how you solve it, why you have done it in this way, what they would do if they ran into this problem and who they would involve if it happened at work. A real-time problem-solving exercise could take the form of a brain teaser or a behavioural interview question.

8. Accept video CVs

While traditional CVs are still relevant and will continue to be for quite some time, this is no excuse for not making use of videos. Quite the contrary, some smart job seekers have started making use of this medium to make a good impression on employers - and it’s working. It’s one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd. Amongst the other benefits of using a video CV, is that it helps you stay memorable, showing employers that you are creative and can use technology effectively.

9. Figure out their target audience

Employers don’t have much time to spend reviewing pointless CVs or going through every single job application. As such, they make sure that they create job adverts that attract the right kind of applicants. They specify this through the job criteria, years of experience, educational and certification requirements, stating that jobseekers who don’t meet them should not apply. Employers might also create job adverts that go out to a specific target audience – e.g. young people if they are looking for interns, and make sure to advertise the job in places where it can be seen by people in that age group.

10. Search for cultural fit

Employers aren’t only interested in the academic qualifications they also want to determine cultural fit. Personality assessments and questionnaires that test the interest and motivation of the candidate applying for the position can provide this kind of information. Screening for personality and motivation helps recruiters understand the intentions of every applicant so that they only get people who are truly passionate about the job.

CV screening can be a long and tiring process. But, it’s a necessary process for employers. Finding the best candidate for a position can be difficult because of the large volume of applications they get, but as you can see recruiters have found a few ways to work around it.

Do you know of any more ways to screen CVs? Let us know in the comments section below…