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How to Streamline Your Candidate Selection Process

How to Streamline Your Candidate Selection Process

Recruitment is the process of sourcing, selecting, and onboarding candidates for vacant positions within a company. Typically, this process is conducted by a HR department or recruitment team, depending on the size of the company.

The complete recruitment process can be comprised of up to fifteen steps, and encompasses everything from preparing the job description, recruiting applicants, and evaluating candidates, to making job offers and onboarding new hires.

At Barometer, we’ve determined that the four overarching stages are:

  • Planning. During the planning stage, a recruitment team identifies hiring needs and role requirements, as well as a strategy for filling the role.
  • Sourcing. The sourcing stage is the proactive search for qualified applicants, often employing job sites, social media, and referrals.
  • Candidate selection. The selection stage of recruitment is the process of identifying the best candidate to appoint to the open position.
  • Onboarding. The onboarding stage involves preparing new hires for work and integrating them into your company culture.

The Importance of a Recruitment Process

An efficient and well-managed recruitment process is important because it can have a major impact on your employer brand, as well as lead to lower recruitment costs and a greater retention rate of new hires.

Jobsoid explains that a deliberate process “helps the hiring team filter the right candidates faster while staying focused on engaging the eligible candidates for maximum conversions.”

Alternatively, Robert Half cites that 54% of HR departments report losing a qualified job candidate to “another opportunity because their in-house hiring process was too lengthy.”

Of the four stages, candidate selection may have the greatest impact on employer brand as it involves extensive interaction directly with candidates. For this reason, we chose to focus on methods of developing a candidate selection strategy that is both efficient and effective.

Phases of the Candidate Selection Stage

We’ve distilled the candidate selection stage into the three phases we believe are the most significant: screening, interviewing, and hiring. Each phase is designed to evaluate different skills and attributes of candidates to determine their suitability for the open position.

By understanding the goals of each of the three phases of the candidate selection stage as well as the strengths of the various strategies, your recruitment team can design the optimal process that is specific to your company.

The Screening Phase

The screening phase is the first step of the selection stage of recruitment. The goal of the screening phase is to ensure the applicant meets the basic requirements of the role before progressing them to the interview phase.

Strategies incorporated in the screening phase include applications and phone screens.

The Application

The job application is the first step intended to weed out candidates and create a shortlist for the next stage of screening or the interview phase. A company’s application process can require that candidates provide application forms, resumes, cover letters, or some combination of the three.

However, asking too much of your candidates when it comes to applying for an open position can impact your application rate. According to Glassdoor, “most companies have an 80% drop-off rate during their application process.”

Research conducted by Indeed found that “applications with 20 screener questions lose 40% of candidates, and the abandonment rate only goes up from there.”

In addition to paring back your application forms to cover only critical screening questions, ensure that you are not requesting that candidates re-enter information provided on their resumes. Indeed explains, “every additional step increases the risk that the job seeker will abandon the process.”

The Phone Screen

Phone screens are often the second layer of filtering candidates after the initial application. Similar to an application form, the purpose of the phone screen is to determine whether candidates who meet the basic requirements for the role deserve a live interview with senior team members.

The phone screen is an opportunity to:

  • Verify basic information provided on a candidate’s resume
  • Detail the job role and responsibilities
  • Ensure the alignment of salary expectations
  • Clarify gaps in their resume
  • Answer any of the candidate’s questions, and
  • Explain the next steps of the interview process.

If there are other requirements for the role, the phone screen is an opportunity to address them. For example, if you have a desired start-date, you can inquire about candidates’ availability and notice periods.

The phone screen and the cover letter can serve a similar purpose. Rather than requesting both, ask yourself if you will learn more about whether to progress a candidate by a cover letter or a phone screen.

The Interview Phase

The interview phase is the stage during which a candidate’s skill sets are evaluated. The skills assessed during this phase can include both hard skills (e.g. technical abilities), and soft skills (e.g. interpersonal communication). The interview phase also provides an opportunity to determine whether a candidate is a cultural match with your company.

During the screening phase, you eliminated the weaker candidates. Now, during the interview phase, the goal is to identify the best candidate.

These attributes can be measured via technical interviews, skills tests, simulated work exercises, video interviews, and in-person interviews. Some recruitment processes incorporate multiple rounds of interviews.

Skills Test

One of the best methods of confirming a candidate’s claimed proficiency in a technical skill required for a role is through a skills test.

ReachMee recommends administering a simulated work exercise to candidates as a method of confirming that they “can actually deliver in a future work situation.” The exercise should directly relate to work the candidate would be expected perform in their day-to-day duties.

Alternatively, a technical interview conducted by a peer whereby the candidate is questioned about their area of expertise may more appropriately assess a candidate’s abilities in certain fields.

The Live Interview

A live interview is a person-to-person interview that occurs in real time. Live interviews can take place in-person or via video chat (e.g. Zoom or Skype).

In addition to evaluating a candidate’s knowledge and experience, the primary objectives are to assess whether a candidate’s qualifications align with the role and how well they would fit in with the company culture based on their character traits and interpersonal skills.

Live interviews are also an opportunity to ask behavioral questions designed to assess candidates’ ability to adapt to change, cope with stress, and respond to challenging situations. According to Indeed, “behavioral questions focus on how you handled a variety of work situations in the past. Your answers to these questions will reveal your personality, skills and abilities.”

Depending on the number of interviews, the size of the company, and the level of the open opposition, each interview is generally conducted by:

  • Round one: hiring manager, recruiter, or team of managers
  • Round two: members of the management team
  • Round three: executives.

So, how many rounds of interviews are appropriate?

Axiom Staffing Group asserts that interviews should not exceed three rounds. Further, the recruitment company explains that the number of rounds of interviews should correspond with the “specific position candidates are applying for.” In other words, hold one round of interviews for an entry-level job, two rounds for a mid-level position, etc.

Any more than three rounds may indicate a lack of planning and a disregard for your candidates’ time. You also risk losing top candidates to competing offers or frustrating those who would otherwise be excited about working for your company.

Hiring Phase

The hiring phase takes place once a company has selected a candidate and before they issue a job offer. The goal of the hiring phase is to confirm the credentials and experience of the candidate.

The most common measures used during the hiring phase are reference and background checks.

Background Checks

Background checks are most often performed for positions that work with government data, financial or personal information, or sensitive populations (e.g. children).

The most common reasons an employer may perform a background check during the hiring phase are to verify a candidate’s criminal records, employment history, and identity.

According to SHRM, a 2018 report by the national Association of Background Screeners (NABS) found that 95% of employers used one or more type of employment background screening method, with 60% stating they conduct background checks during the hiring process only. Of those, 85% of employers cited uncovering a lie or misrepresentation on a candidate’s resume when conducting a hiring phase background check.

Though background checks can serve to confirm candidates’ qualifications and legally protect employers (where relevant), conducting background checks can further delay the hiring process. The processing time of background checks vary: universal background checks take a few minutes, while employment and criminal checks can take up to 5 business days.

Reference Checks

A reference check involves contacting a number of previous employers, colleagues, or teachers to verify a candidate’s claimed credentials. Depending on the level of the position and previous experience required, employers may ask for three to five professional references.

In addition to confirming that a candidate worked or studied where they have claimed to, a reference may vouch for the candidate’s character, work ethic, and relevant abilities.

How to Improve your Candidate Selection Process

When improving your candidate selection process, every phase should have a unique purpose that brings you closer to identifying the best candidate for the role.

Consider the following steps to streamline your candidate selection process.


  1. Identify your candidate needs. What are the essential requirements of your ideal candidate? These can include technical and communication skills as well as an alignment with your company values.
  2. Plan the requirements to be assessed during each selection phase. How can you most aptly and efficiently evaluate these attributes in the three phases of the candidate selection process: screening, interviewing, and hiring?
  3. Determine the best measure. Will I learn more about the candidate’s relevant skills or experience in the screening phase via a cover letter or a phone screen?

Optimize your Recruitment Process

Recruitment teams often implement company and role-specific procedures when sourcing applicants and onboarding new hires.

However, when it comes to the candidate selection stage, most recruiters rely on generalized measures of aptitude, often employing a multitude of measures where one will do.

By applying the same company-specific model to efficiently evaluate candidates based on the unique requirements of the role and workplace, you can improve your candidate experience and increase candidate conversions.

Today, job seekers are increasingly referring to employer review sites for insight into a company’s recruitment process before even applying for a role. Barometer can help you track reviews to understand candidates’ experience of your recruitment process and take the first step towards attracting top talent. Click here to learn more!

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Published by Cayla Williams September 21, 2020
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