Step 4: Reviewing & Screening Applicants

Review of applications should be conducted by individual committee members as they are submitted. The committee as a whole should meet immediately after the closing/review date to select top candidates.

Applicant List
The Hiring Manager or Hiring Manager Assistant is charged with maintaining the Applicant Log in YourFuture.  A person who has been nominated or who was listed in a professional registry becomes an applicant only after the individual submits an online application.  As the search proceeds, the statuses should be updated as appropriate.

An easy way to develop a tracking log is, from the list of open postings, click on "Get Reports List" next to the position.  Choose "Applicant List" and hit "Generate Report."  Highlight the entire report, go into Excel to cell A1 and paste the contents.  You can format the spreadsheet, add columns, etc.

General guidelines:

  • Send a letter to each applicant acknowledging the application upon receipt of materials. Sample.  Outline the planned time frame for review of applications, interviews, and decision.  Enclose additional information about the University (if appropriate).
     
  • Keep all applications in active status until all search committee members have reviewed them.  When the committee has determined which applicants do not meet the minimum requirements in the advertisement, the status should be changed to an appropriate status, such as “HR/Dept determined applicant did not meet min quals – send email now.”  The committee may choose to send those applicants a letter expressing appreciation for their interest in the position at BHSU and informing them they are no longer under consideration for the position.
     
  • Any applicant at “Special Handling” who meets minimum qualifications must receive an initial interview.
     
  • Internet search engines, social networking sites, blogs, and other internet sites have become fertile grounds for recruitment search.  On the surface, the web may appear to be a good resource for screening and verification purposes.  However, the greatest concern is that hiring managers consider the information they’ve obtained from the web as factual, and that they may make hiring decisions based on unverified and un-vetted data.  Sites can reveal all sorts of things that could compromise compliance with existing employments laws, including information on medical conditions, religious beliefs, sexual preference,  and other information that employers should not use a part of a hiring decision.  Use of internet-based information that is incomplete or inaccurate can lead to noncompliance with consumer privacy laws and unintentional discrimination.  Hiring managers and search committees are invited to consult with Human Resources on any questions about using the internet for screening purposes.
     
  • Change the status of those selected for interview (usually 3 - 5 persons) to “Recommend for Interview.”   Those in a "pending" list (usually 10 - 20 persons), would remain at “Under Review by Manager/Committee” until such time they are no longer being considered.
     
  • If the search becomes extended, the active candidates should receive a letter or other communication indicating the search is continuing.
     
  • When the top candidate is identified, the status should be changed to “Recommend for Hire.”

Developing Hiring Criteria
The starting point for identifying the preferred qualifications begins with the job description and announcement.  It is important to know the institution's expectations of the position.  For faculty positions, the COHE Agreement recognizes "minimum rank qualifications" which must be used when examining an applicant's qualifications.

One might ask questions such as, "What are the outstanding needs of the office/position?" "What are the long term goals for this area?" or "What does this job need most?"  It is also necessary to be aware of the daily, unalterable tasks of the position.  One of the best sources for this information is the departing incumbent.

Once the committee has a sense of the position's functions and agendas, it then asks what knowledge, experience, abilities, and personal traits will it take to succeed in the position as it's been defined.  Abilities should come directly from the job analysis.  Some form of quantitative ranking is more defensible than subjective ranking. A qualitative system may also provide a way of comparing applicants. Whatever approach is used, there is value in using some systematic method where all applicants are evaluated in the same way on the same (job relevant) items.  Some examples can be found in the Forms section.

Questions related to race, religion, age, national origin, sex or sexual orientation, or disability are inappropriate when interviewing candidates for positions.  To ensure a professional approach while interviewing, follow a patterned interview plan in which the same general questions and same standards are used with all candidates.  Among questions and issues relevant to the position are:

  • inquiries about the individual's qualifications, abilities, experience, and/or education with reference to advertised responsibilities of the position;
  • career possibilities and opportunities for growth, development, and advancement;
  • details about the duties and responsibilities of the position, any travel requirements, equipment and facilities available.

Once the position has closed, the committee will compile the following:

  • Paper Resumes
  • Copies of Job Description/Announcements/Advertisements
  • Questions Asked Each Applicant
  • Other Documentation Used
  • Letters of Rejection and Recommendation

The first step in the selection process is to review the applications. The purpose of the review is to select the most qualified individuals to move to the next step of the selection process.  You should be using the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) identified in the job announcement as your criteria when reviewing the applications.  

The following guidelines are used to evaluate an applicant’s KSAs:

  • Analysis of relevant work experience should include all work performed on a paid or unpaid basis, including work performed in conjunction with educational programs, internships, cooperative education, field placements, trainees, and volunteer experience.
  • Evaluation of education is based on the knowledge, skills and abilities the education or training provides.  For example, a degree in English is an indicator of writing ability; completion of a vocational school program in auto mechanics is an indicator of knowledge of brake repair.

Because it is difficult to make distinctions between applicants on the basis of an application or resume alone, it may be best at this stage of the selection process to group applicants into two categories: meets entry-level KSAs and exceeds entry-level KSAs.

NOTE: Human Resources staff is available to assist with the initial review of applications. 

Applicants with the status of “Special Handling” must be included in each step of the screening process and must receive an interview.   If someone indicates such in their application materials, please consult with Human Resources for assistance.

 In addition to the initial review of applications, you may choose to go through as many additional screenings, or "cuts," as necessary in the process of selecting the most qualified applicant. A screening method is a technique to help you evaluate the applicant’s knowledge, skills and abilities.  All valid screening methods must adhere to the following:

  1. Criteria used in the screening process must be job-related and free of discriminatory bias.
  2. Complete documentation must be kept on the entire screening process.
  3. Screening methods must be developed to assess the applicants against Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) that are entry-level and essential.
  4. Screening methods must be administered in a standardized and consistent manner.
  5. Questions or statements must be accurate, complete, free from bias, and easy to understand.

Types of Screening Methods
There are a number of screening methods and techniques you can use. The following is a list of the more common types available. Contact the Human Resources Director if you have questions.

Short Screening Interview
This is a short interview designed to screen applicants for a final interview. The purpose of short screening interviews is to clarify information on the resume and better assess an applicant’s qualifications to “short list” a large stack of resumes.
 
A short screening interview seeks out specifics. Questions about the applicant’s experience, accomplishments, responsibilities, education, and knowledge of the field are appropriate. The short screening interview may be conducted by phone and typically lasts from ten to twenty minutes.

Work Sample
This selection technique is designed to measure the applicant’s skills that are necessary upon entry into the job. Applicants are required to demonstrate a particular skill, for example, composing a business letter. The requested work sample should reproduce the important tasks or work behaviors needed to perform the job

Tests
This selection technique consists of a written and/or proficiency assessment of the applicant’s knowledge, skills and abilities.  This method is not traditionally used in the screening of faculty and non-faculty exempt employees.

Evaluate all tests on the following factors:

  1. Is it really job-related?  To be valid, a test must evaluate skills that the applicant will need and use on the job, not general knowledge or skills that are outside the scope of the position.
  2. Does it really work?  Is there any correlation between the employee’s job performance and his or her test results? In other words, do the employees who scored higher perform better?
  3. Does it treat everyone fairly?  If women or minorities pass the test less frequently than non-minority applicants do, the test may be flawed, and may leave you open to damaging discrimination claims.
  4. Is it necessary?  Determine whether the test is really helping you make the right hiring decisions. If not, you may want to stop testing altogether, or use another test that is clearly job-related and leads to better results.

You should tread carefully in the area of employment testing. Good testing can yield valuable information. But when done improperly, it can yield serious legal problems. Please contact the Human Resources Director for assistance before performing pre-employment testing.

Assessment Center
An assessment center is used to determine a candidate's qualifications for a particular position.  Individual and group exercises are administered under standardized conditions which simulate the skills and abilities most essential for successful performance. The candidate's behavior is observed by a team of qualified individuals who are familiar with the requirements of the job and the format of the assessment center. 

Assessment center exercises include but are not limited to:

  • Oral Presentation Exercise: Candidates give an oral presentation in which they must defend their positions and recommendations on a specific issue.
  • In-basket Exercise: This consists of a variety of memos, letters, and documents of varying importance that the candidates respond to and prioritize.
  • Leaderless Group Discussion: Candidates are given a specific problem in which they are instructed to try and reach a group consensus within a specified amount of time. This exercise measures qualities such as decision making, cooperation, and interpersonal skills.
  • Role-Play Exercise: Candidates deal with an employee, irate citizen, or member of the community.  This exercise measures such skills as communication, problem solving, and interpersonal skills.
  • Written Report/Analysis Exercise: Candidates are presented with a job-related topic and are instructed to write a report, position statement, or outline of a new policy.

Essential elements:

  • A variety of assessment techniques, including simulation exercises
  • Multiple assessors
  • Judgments are based on pooling information from assessors
  • The characteristics, qualities, knowledge, skills, or abilities evaluated have been determined by a job analysis

These are not assessment centers:

  • Panel interviews
  • Paper and pencil tests
  • Individual assessments

Due to the great expense involved in setting up an assessment center, an agency should consider the use of other techniques first. If you are considering use of an assessment center, please contact the Human Resources Director.

Willingness Questionnaire (Example in Appendices)
The willingness questionnaire is another method for applicants to self-assess their suitability for the job. The willingness questionnaire asks questions that measure an applicant's willingness to perform certain essential job tasks. The willingness questionnaire is evaluated on a pass/fail basis. All questions pertain to an applicant's willingness to perform essential job tasks. It is easy to develop, cost effective, and especially useful in screening for positions that require unappealing tasks.

Supplemental Task Questionnaire (Example in Appendices)
A supplemental questionnaire or application is a method of obtaining additional, more detailed information from the applicant about the applicant's work history or education and training as it relates to the duties of the position and the necessary KSAs. This technique is most useful for jobs where the work behaviors involved are easily observed and remain basically the same over a period of time.

On a Supplemental Task Questionnaire, applicants are asked to answer specific questions about their qualifications for a position. You may wish to design a Supplemental Task Questionnaire so that the applicant must indicate the proficiency level for the task listed based on a performance scale, for example:

  1. I cannot perform this task
  2. I can perform this task under close supervision
  3. I can perform this task in a proficient manner

There are several types of supplemental questionnaires and applications that can be used.  Please contact the Human Resources Director for assistance in preparing one.

Self-Assessment Questionnaire (Example in Appendices)
Applicants are asked to assess their own qualifications with regard to their job knowledge and work experience in a variety of areas. There are a variety of self-assessment questionnaires that can be used. Please contact the Human Resources Director for assistance in preparing this type of document.