Resume Ranking and Prescreening Candidates

hiringThis week we are continuing our series on the hiring process.

Once you have a stack of resumes, you need to develop a way to rank them. The larger firms have software that sorts by words or word groups, but most of us don’t have that luxury. One way to rank resumes is to take the behavioral traits and industry experience you are looking for and assign points to each. For example, you might rank the attributes and assign five points for the most important down to one point for the least important. Or, if all attributes are equally important, give each one two points for a maximum point total of two times the total number of traits you are looking for. Whichever method you choose, determine in advance the minimum total points a resume must score for moving forward in the process. The key to success with a point system is not to deviate from whatever procedure you set up. Always apply the point system the same way to each resume. Now scan your stack of resumes for these traits and simply give each a score. Any candidates falling below the minimum score are eliminated from the process at this point.

After all your resumes have been ranked as described above, someone will need to do initial phone screening to determine if you want to spend time on in-person interviews. If you have an HR department, this will be one of their tasks. If you’re using a recruiter, they should do this for you. If the task falls on you or one of your managers, develop about three questions based on the job description that will give you a sense of the person on the phone. (Obviously if the phone is a big part of the job and they have a terrible phone manner, you won’t invite them in for an interview.) Once you have several candidates who have passed the initial phone screen, you can begin the process of in-person interviewing as described below.

Now I know some of you will claim you dread the interview process because it’s been unsuccessful in the past, or because you believe you’re not good at it. Keep in mind, however, that poor hiring outcomes are often the result of no process or a process that wasn’t followed correctly. So, stick to the process you’ve created, and a positive outcome is likely to occur. And, as I’ve said before, if interviewing is not your area of expertise, assign it to one of your executive team members or outsource it.

Excerpted from my book, “Putting Together the Entrepreneurial Puzzle: The Ten Pieces Every Business Needs to Succeed.” Available here on Amazon.