The Applicant Manager Blog

How Pre-Screening Functions Work in Applicant Tracking Software

Posted by Edna Nakamoto on May 17, 2018 1:44:32 PM

How pre-screening questions work in applicant tracking systems so you can find the best candidates quickly

If part of your job description involves hiring talent, you know just how difficult and tedious it can be to sift through applicant information. You’re looking for specific clues that will tell you whether the applicant has the experience or qualifications needed to do the job. Resumes can be helpful - but that’s not always the case. 

The downfall of the resume

Resumes essentially tell an applicant’s story, but it’s a very generic story told to make the applicant look favorable. What you don't often get from a resume or employment application is detailed information that can answer specific questions related to the position.

Sometimes you read a resume and still don’t have an idea whether or not the applicant is a good fit. To answer any initial questions you might have, you spend hours setting up and conducting initial phone screens. Vetting and screening qualified candidates is not only frustrating - it’s also one of the biggest wastes of time in the entire hiring cycle.

But that’s not the worst of it. You might even reject a great candidate because they didn’t think to mention their experience with a specific process that is key to your position. And that's a big problem.

So how do you fix it? What you need is an automated process that can save you those precious hours and help you source quality applicants. What if there was a way to vet your applicants without ever needing to do any sifting? With a well-designed online applicant tracking system (ATS), that power is yours.

How pre-screening questions help

Using an ATS to pre-screen candidates provides you with a number of distinct advantages during the hiring process.

Save time: Like we already mentioned, pre-screening questions streamline the process of filtering your candidates, meaning you don’t have to waste hours (or days) reviewing unqualified resumes.

Obtain information not provided on the resume: Setting up custom pre-screening questions is your chance to ask applicants for information not typically found on resumes. Are you looking for someone with a very specific training or cert? Create a pre-screening question around the topic.

Bring the best fit to the top: It’s all about finding the best fitting candidate for the job. By including specific pre-screening questions, you can easily see who’s passing the initial stage of the hiring process with flying colors.

Four types of pre-screening questions

Now that you know why pre-screening candidates is a valuable practice, what kinds of filters can you create? To diversify your search and bring the best fits to the top, we recommend including a mix of the following four types of pre-screening criteria:

  1. 1. Knockout

These are the most basic types of pre-screening questions, and also some of the most important. If an applicant is unable to provide this information, they are immediately knocked out of the running. Examples include eligibility to work in the employer’s country or whether the candidate possesses required certifications.

  1. 2. Drop-down

These come in the form of drop-down menus with a series of selectable answers. As opposed to open text boxes, drop-down menus are advantageous when you’re looking for specific information, such as a desired salary range or a general description of your experience in a certain field. It is far more effective to provide a list of answers you’ve come up with than to give applicants the chance to be vague in an open text box.

  1. 3. Open text

Open text boxes are still useful, however. Sometimes you need highly personalized responses - and text boxes are the way to get them. You can also use text boxes to test an applicant’s level of engagement and ability to communicate effectively.

  1. 4. Check boxes

These come in handy because applicants have the ability to provide multiple answers to a single question. For example, you might provide a list of accounting software tools and ask which ones the applicant has used. Or perhaps you're looking for a multi-lingual translator - whoever checks off the most boxes automatically qualifies as a good candidate!

Use an ATS with standard pre-screen filtering options

Before you can start pre-screening all those resumes in your inbox, you’ll need an applicant tracking system that offers you an easy way to create your applicant filters.

The Applicant Manager’s easy user interface and robust list of features makes it simple to set up screening questions and track great candidates - schedule a free demo with us today to see how TAM can help you streamline your hiring process!

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Edna Nakamoto

Written by Edna Nakamoto