Top Tips To Matching The Candidates Skills to Your Requirements

As soon as you have collated all the applications you will need to match the candidate’s skills and experience to the essential and desirable criteria on your person specification form.

I always find it’s better to wait until the closing date has past so I’m confident I’m reviewing all the applications in one go. If a closing date hasn’t been stated then I tend to review the applications in batches so maybe once a week. The problem I find with reviewing them as they arrive is that I can get distracted with a phone call and therefore might not be totally focused on the job.

Efficient screening is based on consistency, objectivity and relevance. It is helpful to attach a form to each application which lists key requirements as defined by the person specification and to rate each candidate against them. For example a mark out of four may be given for items such as relevant experience, or a tick for possession of a mandatory qualification.

A simple four point scale would score as follows:

  1. No evidence demonstrated
  2. Little evidence demonstrated
  3. Moderate evidence demonstrated
  4. Considerable evidence demonstrated

Here’s how that simple point scale would be applied when scoring applicants for an accounts assistant vacancy:

Selection Criteria Evidence Available? Candidate One Candidate Two Candidate Three
Familiarity with bookkeeping and basic accounting procedures? 4 0 3
Working knowledge of MS Word, Excel and Outlook? 4 0 2
Accuracy and attention to detail? 4 0 3
Aptitude for numbers 4 0 3
Total Score 16 0 11

You would then invite candidate one for an interview and maybe candidate three, but candidate two would be rejected.

The criteria you use will depend on the role you are advertising.

You will find a link at the bottom of this post to download a candidate scoring form.

Top Tip

I always ask candidates to include a covering letter with their CV that explains how they meet the essential criteria for the job they are applying for. On average over 60% of applicants ignore this request and simply send in their CV. Where attention to detail and an ability to follow procedures are important skills for the job I do not shortlist these candidates!

Other Points to Consider

While you are looking through your applications for evidence of your essential and desirable criteria you should also look at the following:-

If a specific qualification(s) is a key requirement for you look carefully at the start and finish dates and the grades they achieved. Missing dates could mean they are trying to cover up the fact they didn’t actually complete the course and if the grade is missing it could mean they failed the course.

Employment History
Are there any gaps in dates? For Instance:

1991 – 1993 followed by 1993 – 1997 could really mean December 1991 – January 1993 and November 1993 – December 1997 i.e. the candidate is trying to disguise a gap from January to November 1993!

If there could be gaps ask the candidate to talk to you through their CV and then dig deeper at each potential gap you’ve identified.

Do the job titles match the description of the duties?

Do they describe the role the person played or the result they achieved?

Reasons for Leaving Jobs
Given the current economic climate redundancy is not an uncommon reason for leaving a job. Your candidates know that and some will use redundancy to disguise another reason for leaving! Questions you can ask to delve deeper include:

  • What reason did the company give for making the redundancies? For instance: they closed the office I worked at, they reduced the factory operation from a two to a one shift pattern.
  • Were other team members made redundant at the same time?

Hobbies and Interests
If you have a particularly nervous candidate then discussing their hobbies and interests outside of work can be a good way of warming things up. For instance, if they have listed reading as a hobby ask them the last good book they read and would they recommend it?

Generally though don’t take hobbies at face value, explore and ask yourself what they tell you about the candidates personality. There is a difference between being a member and being an active member of a club – one sits at home and the other has get up and go.

Is it tidy and accurate, suggesting attention to detail and an organised candidate, or crammed suggesting a chaotic mind.

Is it full of management speak, or bland generic words showing no real personality or originality of thought?

Spelling and Grammar
There is NO excuse for spelling and grammar mistakes on a CV produced on a computer these days – all software has spell check. Errors show a lack of professionalism, attention to detail and all-round carelessness.

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Top Tips To Matching The Candidates Skills to Your Requirements