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How Can I Effectively Prescreen Candidates?

If you have done your homework, you have developed an up-to-date job description that makes clear the specific type of education and/or experience candidates need. As you review the resumes you receive from prospective candidates, consider those qualifications. Now quickly scan all the resumes for those items. Only those that get through this screening should be put aside for further consideration.

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Consider a telephone call to the prospect. Since resumes generally don’t tell the whole story for most candidates, it is not a bad idea to put all potential interviewees through this further prescreening.

Before you pick up the phone, prepare specific questions that reflect issues that are not clear or extensive enough in the resume. List them on a paper with room to write the responses. For instance, the resume says, "Improved productivity by 15 percent." Ask, "How did you do this?" Then tell the applicant a little about the job (not too much, just enough to expand on the ad). If you are both interested in an interview about the job, then you can invite the applicant to come in.

Whatever your decision, you need not mention it on the phone. Thank the individual for his or her time on the phone and promise to get back to the candidate if he or she becomes a serious candidate but explain that you will be in touch with other candidates and that you can’t promise anything.