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Hiring better starts with screening better

March 25, 2014

As technology advances, becoming both more complex and increasingly central to professional operations across industries, IT job openings are on the rise. This is great news for technology professionals, but it can make for a challenging and competitive hiring process for companies in need of additional staff. A better screening strategy is well worth the time and effort, as it can help you streamline your hiring process and improve your chance of identifying the right candidates the first time around.

Hire right the first time around 
Many companies feel an urgent need to fill technology positions as quickly as possible to get new systems up and running or balance the workload of short-handed IT teams. However, rushing to hire a talented candidate can backfire if he or she isn't the right fit for the organization. Recruiting can be an expensive, time-consuming process, so it's better to do it right the first time and avoid turnover or ineffective workers.

According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, replacing an employee generally costs about one-fifth of his or her annual salary. In addition to recruitment expenses, turnover creates losses in terms of knowledge resources, training and productivity while teams are left without full support. These negative consequences can also impact general job satisfaction among co-workers, sometimes spiraling into additional departures.

Hiring the wrong person for the job can be a disaster even if the employee doesn't leave the organization quickly. A CareerBuilder survey found that nearly a quarter of U.S. employers put the cost of a bad hire at over $50,000. The incompetence or poor work ethic of a bad hire can drastically reduce the performance of the entire team. For IT support teams, errors can significantly hinder the entire organization's ability to work efficiently, since the majority of employees often rely on a functioning network to complete their day-to-day activities.

Screening candidates can streamline process and improve results 
Every business leader wants to cut down on the time it takes to hire a candidate, but it's clearly important to choose the right fit. Our research has shown that inadequate screening processes can lead to hiring unqualified IT professionals. Relying primarily on resumes can be a mistake—77 percent of leaders believe that most IT resumes inaccurately represent a candidate's professional experience and about as many say that these documents contain buzzwords that aren't relevant to the job seeker's background. 

To improve their sense of a candidate's qualifications, recruiters can turn to the following strategies:

  • Conduct in-person interviews: Pay attention to non-verbal cues, such as eye contact, gestures and spacial boundaries, to assess whether a candidate will be a good fit in the company environment.
  • Assess technical skills: Gauge proficiency for the specific skill set required for particular IT jobs to ensure they'll make a positive contribution.
  • Check references: Ask about the job seeker's past job performance and whether they're likely to do well in the open position. Consider requiring candidates to provide references who have served as the candidate's supervisor.
  • Refine descriptions of the role: Over half of IT pros don't feel that candidates have an accurate idea of what the job will be like, so setting the right expectations can help both parties have a more relevant conversation to assess whether the candidate fits the position.

While bolstering the screening process with strategies like these and by collecting more relevant information about job seekers, it's important to keep the application process simple. TEKsystems found that 63 percent of applicants say it takes too long to complete an application, and many will not apply for a position if the process takes an excessive amount of time. 

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