6 Ways to Weed the Best Job Candidates From the Rest



There are more candidates out in the job market than ever before. For every one job opening there are three unemployed people looking for work. So it shouldn’t be surprising that, on average, you’ll receive about 250 resumes for every open corporate job posting.

This is certainly a lot of talent to sort through, and obviously not everyone is going to be right for the job. Weeding the best from the rest can often feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack, except this needle is important for your company’s survival.

Here are a few simple ways to cut down on your candidate pool and separate the job seeking superstars from the office duds:

Include Application Instructions

A great way to do a little preliminary pruning in the early stages of the hiring process is to include application instructions in your job description. This can be as simple as instructing job seekers to include a certain phrase in the subject line of an email or requesting the candidate provide a salary range. What application instructions are really for, however, is to weed out candidates who aren’t detail oriented.

The candidates who ignore your instructions might be the same people applying to dozens of jobs at once. They’re not excited about the position, they’re just looking for any job at all and wallpapering their resume around cyberspace. You’re looking for more than a warm body in your office — you’re looking for your company’s next superstar hire. Someone who can’t even follow your simple application instructions is probably not the right talent for your position.

Ask For A Work Portfolio

Depending on the position and your industry, a work portfolio can give you a great idea of the candidate’s actual skill level. Showing off the goods can be a great way to evaluate everyone from writers to marketers to tech wizards to graphic designers.

The best part of requesting work samples is that it helps you save time in the preliminary steps of the hiring process. If you’re not impressed by the work sent along, most likely you won’t be overly impressed by the work done in the office. Keep in mind candidates sending their work portfolios are passing along their best work. If you’re not blown away, it might be smart to move on to the next talented candidate.

Check Out Social Media

Social channels are a great way to gauge the personality and professionalism of the candidates applying for your open positions. Look at their pubic social media accounts to see how they communicate with others and present themselves. If they’re sharing inappropriate messages and pictures, perhaps the candidate doesn’t have the level of professionalism you need in your organization.

Ask The Right Questions…

If you’re past the preliminary stages and you’ve whittled down your list of candidate to the best and brightest, it’s time to start thinking about the interview. While 92 percent of job seekers are scared about some aspect of the interview process, you know the interview is the best time to connect personally with candidates and see what they’re made of.

You need to think critically about the questions you ask in the interview process. You don’t want to ask too many cookie-cutter questions, or you’ll end up with well-rehearsed answers that ultimately tell you little about the candidate. Instead, ask situational questions about the candidate’s previous employer and working style.

For example, ask about your candidate’s proudest accomplishment, their biggest mistake and how they work in a team environment. The answers to these questions will give you insight into how the applicant works under pressure and solves problems.

…But Don’t Get Too Wacky

Every year a list of the wackiest and most oddball interview questions is compiled, and huge companies from Amazon to Google appear with some truly strange questions. But are these brainteasers actually useful in determining the best candidates? The answer to that question is far from determined.

Google, one of the earliest proponents of the weird brainteaser questions, has actually abandoned the practice. Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google, told the New York Times, “On the hiring side, we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time.”

You need to know if job applicants can work well in your company culture and do the job at hand, not whether they know how many golf balls would fit into a commercial airplane. While you’re focusing on outside-the-box questions to avoid by-the-book answers, make sure your interview questions still give you insight into how the candidate would fit into your company and how well they could perform job functions.

Look For Passion

Perhaps the most important thing to look for while evaluating job seekers is sincere passion for your industry, company or the position in question. If you find someone with genuine motivation and passion for the job, you’ll be hiring someone willing to work hard and bring real value to your company. You’ll also be hiring an employee likely to stick around for the long haul, reducing costly employee turnover for your organization.

Separating the superstars from your packed stack of resumes is far from easy. If you utilize some of these simple tips, however, you can weed out the very best for your open positions.

What do you think? What are some ways you weed out applicants and find the very best? Share in the comments!

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.


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